America's Best History Spotlight

On this page we're going to Spotlight the lesser known historic sites and attractions that dot the history landscape across the USA and are worth a visit if you're in their area. And while they may be lesser known, some are very unique, and will be that rare find. You'll be, at times, on the ground floor, or maybe even know something others don't. It'll be fun. Visit them.

Cornwall Iron Furnace Visitor Center

Cornwall Iron Furnace

You've just popped up from Gettysburg and spent a day plus at Hershey, but there's time on the agenda for a small something to do, but what should you do? The rides have you dizzy and something calm and historic might just fit the bill. Well, not even one half hour away to the east, in a small town that in many ways seems to forget it has a historic site, sits the Cornwall Iron Furnace. Photo above: entrance to the Visitor Center, located in the charcoal barn.

  • Cornwall Iron Furnace

    Cornwall Iron Furnace

    When you approach the furnace, it seems wedged within the small community that has grown up around it. And that, in many ways, represents what these 18th and 19th century iron furnaces were at their start and zenith. They were the integral workplaces essential to life throughout east and central Pennsylvania in the towns where they were constructed. This furnace served that function from 1742 to 1883. Yes, through the American Revolution and the Civil War. It was started by a miner, Peter Grubb, and is now the sole intact charcoal cold blast iron furnace in the Western Hemisphere. Now that's pretty cool.

    From a historic standpoint, these furnaces helped the colonies survive and thrive, producing one out of every seven tons of the world's iron at the time. And even though the furnace itself did not last into the 20th century, the open iron ore pit located not far away continued production for Bethlehem Steel until 1973.

    So what can you expect if you go. Well, small history today, but large impact back in its heyday. There were three hundred acres owned by the Grubb family that were part of its operation, and yes, its name did come from their namesake home town of Cornwall, England. The furnace worked twenty-four hours per day, seven days a week, and produced in the area of 24 tons of iron per week.

    Photo above: Interior of the Cornwall Iron Furnace Visitor Center.

  • Cornwall Iron Furnace

    What's There

    There are fourteen buildings of the furnace and other structures at Cornwall. The Visitor's Center is located in the 19th century charcoal barn.

    There are picnic tables to use outside the Visitor Center.

    Exhibits in the Visitor Center, plus book and souvenir store.

    How Much to Visit

    $8 per adult (12-64), $4 youth (3-11), under 3 free. $7 Seniors and Motor Club members.

    Hours Open

    Open Thursday thru Sunday 9-5, plus Memorial Day, Labor Day, and July 4.

    Where Is It Located

    Cornwall Iron Furnace is located in Cornwall, Pennsylvania. If you get to Cornwall, you can't miss it. Coming from the east or west (Hershey), you will be on Route 322. Take a right (from the east) or left (from the west) on Quentin Road, Route 72. Make a quick right on East Main Street to Freeman Drive, Right on Alden/Burd Coleman Road, then left onto Rexmont Road. All of these are quick, less than one mile turns. The address is 94 Rexmont Rd, Cornwall, PA 17042-9760. There are signs to the site, but not so many that you don't have to pay good attention. We went past it the first time there.

    Website - Cornwall Iron Furnace

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