Virtual Museum of Pennsylvania Iron Furnaces & Iron Works

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The Iron Furnaces of Clarion County Pennsylvania
Helen Furnace
"Highland Furnace"& Iron Works

Village of Helen Furnace,
Highland Twp.,
Clarion County,
Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

Pennsylvania Iron Furnace Source Book
Clarion County Iron Furnaces

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 & 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 Nov. 2, 2002

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Helen Furnace "Highland Furnace" & Iron Works: A stone blast furnace & iron works. Located on Scotch Hill Road, on Toby Creek, 8 mi. east of Clarion, near the Village of Helen Furnace, Highland Twp., Clarion County, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
Date Built: ca. 1845
Date Out-of-Blast: ca.1857

Other names Helen Furnace was known by:
Barker & Packer Company Furnace;
Barber & Packer Furnace;
Heelen Furnace;
Heeland Furnace;
Hellen Furnace;
Hieland Furnace;
Highland Furnace;
Packer's Furnace;
Richey's Furnace;
Wilson & McKim's Furnace.

Helen Furnace "Highland Furnace"& Iron Works:
Owners:
Robert Barber & Packer (Caldwell,1877)
Robert Barker & Wilson S. Packer (Beck,n.d.)
David Richey (Davis,1887:118)
David Richey, Samuel Wilson & David McKim (History of Clarion Co.,1976)
Samuel Wilson (Caldwell,1877)
Samuel Wilson & David McKim (Iron Manuf. Guide), (Lesley,1859:102)
W.S. Packer & Company (ca.1850)

Helen Furnace,
Highland Township,
Clarion Co.
1872 Map of Highland Township, Clarion, showing the location of the Village of Helen Furnace and the settlement around the furnace location.

(Map copied from "Atlas of the County of Lawrence & The State of Pennsylvania,"  Published by G.M.Hopkins & Co., Philadelphia, PA, ca.1872)

Location:
To reach Helen Furnace "Highland Furnace," go north from Clarion, on PA SR1005, cross the Clarion River to the Village of Helen Furnace.  Just south of the Village of Helen Furnace, Wolbert Dr. turns west.  Turn west on Wolbert Dr., about 1 mi. from the intersection you will see the remains of the furnace stack near Toby Creek on the left about 100 feet from the road.
(Sharp & Thomas,1966:34)

(It is recommended that you obtain and use the "Pennsylvania Atlas & Gazetteer" by DeLorne Mapping, as you map source in finding the Clarion County Iron Furnaces.)
The Highland Township map is cropped from a 1/50,000 USGS Geological Survey Map of Clarion County dated 1986; based on 1/24,000 maps dated 1963 through 1969.
(Map courtesy of the U.S.G.S. Topographic Survey, Washington, D.C.)

Short History of Helen Furnace "Highland Furnace":
Documents Relating to the Manufacture of Iron in Pennsylvania, 1850
A Detailed Statement of all the Charcoal Cold Blast Furnaces in Western Pennsylvania in the year 1850
Published on behalf of the Convention of Iron Masters,
Which met in Philadelphia, on the Twentierth of December, 1849
Philadelphia: Published by the General Committee. 1850
Name of Works date of Sheriff's
sale or failure
Furnaces
in-blast 1849
Furnaces
out-of-blast 1849
date of construction Capacity in Tons
Helen Furnace       1       1845   1,500 Tons
        Owners Post Office      Kind of ore used  No. of Men &
Boys Employed
 No. of horses &
mules Employed
 W.S. Packer & Company Clarion  Argillareous Carbonate        100         70
      Stack
No. Tuyeres
 Stack
 Bosh
 Stack
 Height
 Kind of
Power used
Kind of Metal Made  Largest product  Actual Product
    in 1849
      2 9 feet 32 feet   Steam Close Gray Iron  1,500 Tons   1,000 Tons

                                                                                           (Iron Masters Association,1850:n.p.)

Helen Furnace
Helen Furnace Cold-blast Charcoal Furnace, three miles east from Lucinda Furnace, owned and managed by Samuel Wilson and David McKim, of Strattonville, Clarion county Pennsylvania, and situated between the Little Toby and the Clarion Rivers, eight miles due north from Clarion on the road to Scotchhill, was built in 1845, 8 feet across the bosh by 32 feet high, and made in twenty-six weeks of 1856,  756 tons of iron out of buhrstone coal measure ore, mined back of the tunnel head. (Lesley,1859:102)

Helen Furnace, Located on Scotch Hill road, 8 miles from Clarion.  Height 32 feet, 8 foot bosh.  Built by Robert Barber & Packer in 1845.  Failed, then bought by David Richey.  Then bought by Samuel Wilson, with whom David McKim was a partner for a while.  Cold Blast.  Production was 756 tons in only 26 weeks in 1856, ore was mined at back of tunnel head.  Abandoned 1856 or 1857.  Built on "old McNaughton farm."  Named "Highland Furnace," in honor of Alexander McNaughton, by builders.  McNaughton was proud of his Highland Scotland heritage.  Pronunciation with Scottish accent was "heeland," which eventually became "Helen." (Caldwell,1877:  )

Helen Furnace, cold blast; built in 1845, by Robert Barber; eight foot bosh, thirty-two feet high; it was eight miles from Clarion, on the Scotch Hill road. On Barber & Packer's failure the property for a short time was in the hands of David Richey, and was finally purchased by Samuel Wilson, with whom D. McKim was a partner for a while. Made in twenty-six weeks of 1856  756 tons of iron, from ore mined back of the tunnel head; stopped manufacture in 1856 or '57. (Davis,1887:118)

Helen Furnace was erected at the State and Clarion road crossing, on the old McNaughton farm, by Robert Barker, and Wilson S. Packer, in 1845. The property passed into the hands of Samuel Wilson, who ran it till 1857. The Wilson family have been prominently identified with the material interests of this section. The builders named it "Highland" Furnace in honor of Alexander McNaughton, who prided himself in being a Highlander, but the word being pronounced after the Scottish dialect "Hieland," the name was corrupted to "Helen" Furnace, leading to the erroneous supposition that it was christened with a feminine name. The name of the township has the same origin; it is commonly, but incorrectly, pronounced "Helen" township. (Davis.1887:n.p.)

Helen Furnace. Erected in 1845 and out of blast in 1857.  The original name of this furnace was "Highland Furnace" in honor of Alexander McNaughton, a Scotsman who owned the farm upon which the furnace was built.  This was pronounced "Hieland" and was later corrupted to "Helen."  It was a cold blast, two tuyere furnace, powered by steam.  In 1850 it was owned by W.S. Packer and Company.

The inner stack was in good condition ca.1966.  The outer stones have fallen down. Someone several years ago, ca.1966, piled some of the stones to form a round stack.  It is a poor imitation of a furnace. (Sharp & Thomas,1966:34)

Helen Furnace, was reconstructed in 1977. (Clarion County Historical Society)

Helen Furnace "Highland Furnace" ca.1938, From the Norma H. Arnold Iron Furnace Scrapbook, in the collections of the Clarion County Historical Society, Clarion, PA
(Photo courtesy Lindsley A. Dunn, Director-Curator of the Clarion County Historical Society, Clarion, PA)

One of the Archs of Helen Furnace, ca.1938, or later, from the Norma H. Arnold Iron Furnace Scrapbook, in the collections of the Clarion County Historical Society, Clarion, PA
(Photo courtesy Lindsley A. Dunn, Director-Curator of the Clarion County Historical Society, Clarion, PA)

Helen Furnace "Highland Furnace" ca.1938 or later, From the Norma H. Arnold Iron Furnace Scrapbook, in the collections of the Clarion County Historical Society, Clarion, PA
(Photo courtesy Lindsley A. Dunn, Director-Curator of the Clarion County Historical Society, Clarion, PA)

Helen Furnace "Highland Furnace" ca.1938 or later, showing the round pile of furnace stone referred to by Sharp & Thomas, From the Norma H. Arnold Iron Furnace Scrapbook, in the collections of the Clarion County Historical Society, Clarion, PA
(Photo courtesy Lindsley A. Dunn, Director-Curator of the Clarion County Historical Society, Clarion, PA)

Helen Furnace "Highland Furnace" ca.1938 or later, showing the round pile of furnace stone referred to by Sharp & Thomas, in the collections of the Clarion County Historical Society, Clarion, PA
(Photo courtesy of Arnold Kepple, author of "History of Callensburg Boro & Licking Township.")

Helen Furnace "Highland Furnace"
the reconstructed Helen Furnace, no date, Village of Helen Furnace, Clarion Co., PA.
(Photo from "Pennsylvania Heritage," Spring 1985).

Helen Furnace "Highland Furnace" 
Undate photo of the work arch or casting arch of the reconstructed Helen Furnace.
(Photo courtesy of Sue Llewellyn of Bedford Co.)

Helen Furnace "Highland Furnace" 
Undated photo taken from the road behind the reconstructed Helen Furnace stack.
(Photo courtesy of Sue Llewellyn of Bedford Co.)
Helen Furnace
Undate photo taken from the reconstructed charging ramp at the top of the furnace stack, looking toward the charging hole.  The ramp was closed off with the orange snow fence, because it was unsafe, at the time.
(Photo courtesy of Sue Llewellyn, of Bedford Co.)
Helen Furnace
Undated phot taken from the ground looking up at the charging ramp of the reconstructed Helen Furnace stack.
(Photo courtesy of Sue Llewellyn, Bedford Co.)

Bibliographical Sources:  This section under construction.                                                    

[no other pictures are presently available for Helen Furnace, Highland Twp., Clarion Co., Pa.]
If you have pictures or know of where pictures of the furnace are located or additional information on Helen Furnace, Clarion Co., please contact the Ironmaster

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