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Trough Creek State Park

16362 Little Valley Road
James Creek, PA 16657

814-658-3847

The Appalachian Mountains blocked the movement of settlers from the east, delaying the settlement of the Great Trough Creek Gorge until Nicholas Crum traveled northeast from Baltimore in 1785. Crum harnessed the power of the creek with a turbine gristmill to grind grain. George Knoblough followed and in 1789 built a short-lived bloomery to smelt iron.

Attracted by the gorge’s natural resources of iron ore, limestone, trees and water power, Rueben Trexler, an ironmaster from Berks County, Pennsylvania, constructed a bloomery in 1818. Trexler partnered with his father-in-law Jacob Lesher, another Berks County Ironmaster, to build Trough Creek Furnace which produced far more pig iron than the bloomery. Charcoal fueled the furnace, requiring an acre a day of trees to produce the charcoal required.

John Savage, of Philadelphia, leased the furnace in 1832, renaming it Mary Ann Furnace, and built Savage Forge to process the pig iron into bar iron. William Firmstone, an Englishman with knowledge of European iron making techniques, managed the furnace. In 1835, for the first time in the United States, good iron was produced using coke as at fuel at Mary Ann Furnace. The process lasted for one month, then ceased, likely due to the lack of coke or the high cost. Mary Ann Furnace continued smelting iron with charcoal until the 1850s or 1860s.

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