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Virtual Museum of Pennsylvania Iron Furnaces & Iron Works

Digital Iron Furnace Research Library
The 19th Century Society of Pennsylvania

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The Iron Furnaces of Franklin County Pennsylvania
Caledonia Furnace
Caledonia Forge

Village of Caledonia,
Greene Township,
Franklin County,
Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

Pennsylvania Iron Furnace Source Book
Franklin 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. 3, 2002

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Caledonia Furnace & Iron Works, Located on Conecocheaque Creek, near the Village of Caledonia, Caledonia State Park, Franklin County, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
Date Built: ca. 1837
Date Out-of-Blast: ca.1874

Other names Caledonia Furnace was known by:
Caledonia Works;
Caledonia Forge;
Stevens' Furnace.

Caledonia Furnace & Iron Works
A Stone Blast Furnace & Iron Works
Owners: Thaddeus Stevens (ca.1837-   ?  )
              Thaddeus Stevens Estate

Caledonia Furnace
Undated photo of Caledonia Furnace.
(Photo courtesy of HABS/HAER, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.)
Reconstructed Caledonia Furnace
The reconstruted half scale, or less, furnace stack of Caledonia Furnace. The stack was reconstructed ca.1927 by the Pennsylvania Alpine Club.  It is not know if this reconstruction is on the actual site of the original Caledonia Furnace.
(Photo courtesy of Ed Houk.)

Short History:

Caledonia State Park.  The history of the park is both colorful and varied. The park is named for Thaddeus Stevens' charcoal iron furnace which began operation in 1837. The Honorable Thaddeus Stevens was born in Caledonia County, Vermont and became a famous abolitionist, statesman and father of the public school system in Pennsylvania.

During the Civil War, the area was invaded by Confederate troops. Because of the conflict that was in progress between the North and South and in part due to Mr. Stevens views on freeing those in slavery, the furnace was destroyed in a raid in June of 1863 by Confederate Cavalrymen under the command of General J. A. Early. The scenic watercourse along PA Route 233 was once the millrace that operated the furnace waterwheel.

Pastures were used as field hospitals for the wounded taken from the Gettysburg Battlefield. Today they are playfields for visiting children. (PA DCNR Web site.)

In 1927, the Pennsylvania Alpine Club reconstructed the stack of the old furnace as a reduced scale monument. The reconstructed scale model stack and blacksmith shop are the only visible reminders of the early iron works.

Letters to Thaddeus Stevens on the operations of Caledonia Furnace during the Civil War.

Chambersburg
April 19th 1861
Dear Sir
I have just bid Alanson good bye he has gone to fight the battle of his country. the wildest state of excitement reigns here our best men have tendered their services. and everybody left back is anxious to go. business in this place is entirely suspended - stores all shut up. $6000 was raised yesterday to support the families of the soldiers during their absence. If it would be policy to stop operations at Caledonia, our force to a man will go. & I will go with them.
Very Truly
Your Obt Servnt
W. E. Camp
                                                                                                                                       Hon Thaddeus Stevens

(W.E.Camp, Jr. to Thaddeus Stevens, Letter, April 19, 1861, Courtesy of University of Virginia Collections)


Waynesboro
Jan 4, 1864
Dear Sir
I wrote to you ten or twelve days ago at the request of Mr. Ahl to know what chance you would give him to rebuild the furnace and forge at Caledonia. I saw him again the other day he wished me to write to you (as probably you had not got the other letter) he appears anxious to know and wants me to write to him soon as I hear from you hope your health continues good.
I remain your friend
W. Hammett
Hon Thaddeus Stevens

(W. Hammett to Thaddeus Stevens Letter, Jan 4, 1864, Courtesy of University of Virginia Collections)

The Caledonia Iron Works were constructed in 1837, by THAD. STEVENS and JAMES D. PAXTON, in Green Township. These men were the firm until 1848, when a heavy indebtedness caused a change, and STEVENS bought out PAXTON, and assumed the entire indebtedness. The new proprietor put MR. WM. HAMMETT in charge as superintendent, who filled the place for twenty years, and was succeeded by MR. JOHN SWANEY, who had charge of them at the time of their destruction in 1863. In the plant were about 20,000 acres of good ore and lumber land. The ore was converted into blooms and marketed in the eastern cities -- average price $65 to $75 per ton. It is supposed that STEVENS lost considerable money by his iron-mills. The mill and machinery were entirely destroyed during the war, by order of GENERAL EARLY.

Mount Pleasant Iron Works were established by the CHAMBERS, about 1783. They afterward passed into the possession of the KINGS, DUNNS and DOYLES, respectively. Through all these various changes, they were operated more or less successfully, until 1829, when they were permanently closed. Being among the earliest of iron-mills in the country, they served in their time a valuable purpose.

The Carrick furnace, four miles north of the Mount Pleasant works, was the substitute that made the latter such a prime necessity. The Carrick furnace was erected about 1830, and continued to be operated through various changes, until 1844, when it closed down for want of patronage.

The Richmond furnace, in Metal Township, at the time of the general depression of the iron trade of the country, banked its furnaces and closed up. It is fully equipped for the production of iron, and it is the intention to start it again into full operation as soon as a change in the trade will warrant it.

Bibliographical Sources:  This section under construction.      

Iron Masters Association
1850  Documents Relating to the Manufacture of Iron in Pennsylvania.  
    Philadelphia, PA:  Convention of Pennsylvania Iron Masters.
[Manufacturers data on Caledonia water power charcoal Forge, built ca.1830; and Caledonia water power hot-blast charcoal Furnace, built ca.1837, in-blast 1850, Grafenburg, P.O., Adams Co., Franklin Co., owner Thaddeus Stevens. (Iron Masters Association,1850:n.p.)]
Rogers, Henry Darwin
1858  Geology of Pennsylvania. Vol.I & Vol. II.   A Government Survey, in two Volumes.
    Philadelphia, PA:  J.B.Lippincott & Co.
[Describes the iron ore banks used by Caledonia Furnace & the Caledonia Works.  Analyses of the iron ores used at Caledonia Furnace, Franklin Co. (Rogers,1858,1:268; 2:721,728)]   
Lesley,
1859  Iron Manufactures Guide.  
[Location & data, Caledonia water power Forge, Conecocheague Creek, 15 mi. west of Gettysburg, in Franklin County,  owner Thaddeus Stevens' heirs, manager Henry Sloat, built in 1830, in-blast ca.1855.  Caledonia hot-blast charcoal furnace, Conecocheaque Creek, South Mountain, 10 mi.east of Chambersburg, Franklin Co., owner Thaddeus Stevens' heirs, manager Henry Sloat, built 1837, in-blast 1855.(Lesley,1855:44,170) ] 
Pennsylvania 2nd Geological Survey.
1874  Adams, Franklin, Cumberland Maps. South Mountion Sheets A1, A2, B1, B2.  Report of Progress D5.
    Harrisburg, PA:  Pennsylvania Geological Survey.  [Detailed survey map of Caledonia Furnace, Franklin Co. (Lehman,1874:Sh.B1)]   
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
1874  1st. Annual Report of the Bureau of Statistics of Pennsylvania, for the years 1871-72.
    Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  Harrisburg, PA:  B.F.Meyers, State Printer.    [Caledonia charcoal Furnace, P.O. Graffenburg, Franklin Co., owner Thad. Stevens' estate.(Comm. of PA,1874:241).]
1875  2nd Annual Report of the Bureau of Statistics of Pennsylvania,  for the years1873-74.
    Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  Harrisburg, PA: B.F. Meyers, State Printer.
 [Caledonia charcoal Furnace, Franklin Co., owner Thaddeus Stevens' Estate, 1 stack built 1837, out-of-blast 1872-73.   (Comm. of PA,1875:264)]
M'Cauley, I. H.
1878  Historical Sketch of Franklin County, Pennsylvania.  Prepared for the Centennial Celebraion, Held at Chamberburg, PA, July 4, 1876.  Second Ed. , Enlarged.
    Harrisburg, PA:  Patriot Publishing Co.    [Caledonia Furnace, Franklin Co., owner Stevens. (M'Cauley,1878:171)]   
American Iron & Steel Association
1878  Directory to the Iron and Steel Works of the United States.  
    Philadelphia, PA:  The American Iron and Steel Association.   [Lists Thaddeus Stevens Estate's Caledonia Furnace, Franklin Co., 1 stack, built 1837, recently abandoned.(Amer. Iron & Steel Assoc.,1878:n.p.) ]
HISTORY OF FRANKLIN COUNTY PENNSYLVANIA ILLUSTRATED, CHICAGO:
WARNER, BEERS & CO., 1887, Chicago: JOHN MORRIS COMPANY, PRINTERS
118 and 120 Monroe Street.
>

[no other pictures are presently available for Caledonia Furnace, Franklin Co., Pa.]
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