Virtual Museum of Pennsylvania Iron Furnaces & Iron Works

Digital Iron Furnace Research Library
The 19th Century Society of Pennsylvania
Links to:
Pennsylvania Furnaces Every Name Index
Pennsylvania Furnaces County Index
Pennsylvania Clickable County Map
Cited References for Pennsylvania Iron Works & Iron Furnaces

Iron Furnaces of Berks County Pennsylvania
Birth of the Iron Industry in Pennsylvania:
Colebrookdale Furnace & Iron Works

Pennsylvania Iron Furnace Sourcebook

A Tribute to the Iron Masters and Iron Workers
that built and keep in-blast
the old Stone Blast Furnaces of Pennsylvania.

by
Raymond A. Washlaski, Historian, Archaeologist, Editor & Web Master,
Ryan P. Washlaski, Technical Advisor.


Virtual Museum of Pennsylvania Iron Furnaces & Iron Works
A Publication of the 19th Century Society of Pennsylvania
Updated Dec. 7, 2004

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An early Stove Back casting made at Thomas Rutter's Colebrookdale Furnace, Pottstown, Berks County, Pennsylvania

Birth of the Iron Industry in Pennsylvania

Two hundred and eighty- five years ago the pig iron industry in Pennsylvania had its birth in a small stone blast furnace located in the forests of presentday Berks County, Pennsylvania.  Thomas Rutter and associates, established the first iron works in Pennsylvania in the year 1716.  They built Pool Bloomery Forge on  the banks of Manatawney Creek, near presentday Pottstown, Pennsylvania.  These enterprising pioneers extended their activities by erecting a stone blast furnace nearby on the banks of Iron Stone Creek, a branch of Manatawney Creek, to reduce the iron ores found in the hills nearby, and to supply their forges with pig metal.  In 1720 the furnace was completed and was named Colebrookdale Furnace, to honour the works by that name built by Abraham Darby, in Shropshire, England.  Darby was a prominent ironmaster of his day and a member of the Society of Friends "A Quaker,"  Rutter and Potts also belonged to the Society of Friends (Quakers).  Although this first iron furnace was crudely built and had only a small production of pig metal, most of which was cast directly into implements at the furnace, it was the beginning of the once mighty Pennsylvania Iron Industry.

One of the early castings of Colebrookdale Furnace is the stove back shown above.  This casting shows the excellent craftsmanship of the patternmakers, the molders and the iron workers at Colebrookdale Furnace.

Colebrookdale Furnace & Iron Works had a long and prosperous career, this furnace together with a forge, remained in operation until just before the American Revolution, records show that while not still in active operation, the furnace was still standing in 1785.

After Colebrookdale Furnace had been established, developments in the building of iron works continued and only a few years later records show there were at least four iron furnaces in the colony, these furnaces were supplying the local trade with iron and that some 300 tons of pig iron had been exported to England.

The progress of the erection of these early iron works was rapid, and by the time of the American Revolution, the colonists of Pennsylvania were well equipped with the means to make the cannon and shot needed to repel the invading forces, of the British King.

An early ironing Iron trivat made by the Colebrookdale Iron Company, Pottstown, PA.
(From the collection of the author.)

[no pictures are presently available for Colebrookdale Iron Works, Pottstown, Berks Co., Pa.]
If you have pictures or know of where pictures of the iron works are located or have additional information on Colebrookdale Iron Works, Pottstown, Berks Co., please contact the Ironmaster

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