The Alliance Iron Works: The Rapid Rise and Fall of Western Pennsylvania’s First Iron Furnace


A giant pile of stone and earth sits along Jacobs Creek on Pennsylvania State Game Lands 296. Only a small patch of a fire-glazed column and a corner of a stone stack tell us it was once part of an iron furnace. For more than 200 years, the Alliance Iron Works, the first iron furnace west of the Appalachian Mountains, has been slowly returning to nature. When it was started in the late 18th century, the furnace and its forge supplied castings for consumers, ordnance for the military, and bar iron for the repair and manufacture of tools and equipment. Although the Alliance Iron Works was the first large-scale iron manufacturer west of the Appalachian Mountains, it was riddled with problems of mismanagement, insufficient power, and inadequate supplies which eventually led to its ruin.

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