Helen Furnace, Clarion County, Pennsylvania
Helen (aka Highland) - This furnace is about 8 miles north of Clarion at the small community of Helen Furnace in Highland Township. Was built by Robert Barber and Wilson S. Packer in 1845(jac). Mr. Packer owned it in 1850(s&t). It failed and then was bought by David Richey, followed by Samuel Wilson, whose partner for a while was David McKim(hcc). It was a cold blast, two tuyere furnace, powered by steam(s&t). It was 32' high with a 9' bosh, with the maximum annual production of 1000 tons(jm). It produced 756 tons in 26 weeks of 1856 with ore mined from back of the tunnel head. It was abandoned in 1856 or 1857(unk/jm). The original name was "Highland" in honor of Alexander McNaughton a Scotsman who owned the farm where the furnace was built. This was pronounced "Hieland" or "Heeland" and was later corrupted to "Helen". In the early 1960's s&t said "The inner stack is in good condition. The outer stones have fallen down. Someone, several years ago, piled some of the stones to form a round stack. It is a poor imitation of a furnace". Helen Furnace was reconstructed in 1977 on the exact site of the original furnace, When we visited the reconstructed furnace in 1977 we found a well maintained furnace with a charging bridge replica. Hurricane Ivan in fall of 2004 had broken down one wall of the furnace and destroyed the charging bridge. Restoration of the furnace was completed by 2007 but the charging bench had not been replaced(wb). It is interesting to note that the restorations have included mortared joints between the outer stones which was never the practice with original furnaces (P)(V)(rp-1977-2004, he-2003).
Following S.&T's directions, "go north from Clarion on PA966 (now numbered SR1005) to the village of Helen Furnace. Turn west on LR16090 (renumbered SR1004 White Oak Drive), which is just south of the village. About 0.1 miles west you will see the stack on the left about 100 feet from the road".
Other web sites indicate other directions and locations for this furnace; however the directions given by Sharp and Thomas and revised to show the new road numbers and names are the correct directions. These have been verified by the Clarion County Park personnel, the USGS topographical map for Lucinda quadrangle, and the GPS reading by Hank Edenborn in April 2004..
The GPS location is 41º 17.16'N - 79º 19.244'W. (he-rp2004)
Map showing location of
Helen Furnace restoration in 1978 showing
rebuilt charging ramp
Helen Furnace - October 2004 after
destruction by Hurricane Ivan
Helen Furnace - October 2004 showing
side left intact by hurricane Ivan.
Note charching ramp is destroyed
Helen Furnace newly restiored - August 2007
Charging ramp not replaced
Helen Furnace newly restored - August 2007
Helen Furnace Special Sources:
A Guide to the Old Stone Blast Furnaces of Western Pennsylvania, Myron B. Sharp and William H. Thomas (s&t)
Caldwell's Illustrated Historical Combination Atlas of Clarion Co. Pa. J. A. Caldwell(jac) 1877*
History of Clarion County, unknown compiler, cir 1976 (hcc)*
History of Clarion County A. J. Davis (ajd) ed. 1887*
Unspecified Clarion Co. Sources from asterisk list above.(unk)
Hank Edenborn, Finleyville, PA
Michael N. Johnson, Clarion Co., PA
Copyright © Richard Parks, Last updated May 5, 2010