Pennsylvania Iron Industry Fuels Progress and Victory - Columbia, PA
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member Math Teacher
N 40° 02.543 W 076° 30.983
18T E 370639 N 4433562
Quick Description: Wars are won with weapons. The side with the most weapons, with all things being equal, will usually win. During the Civil War, this area was a crucial Civil War site for the manufacturing of pig iron, fueling weapons for the Union army.
Location: Pennsylvania, United States
Date Posted: 2/25/2012 6:10:20 AM
Waymark Code: WMDV1D
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Turtle3863
Views: 2

Long Description:

This site is a project of Rivertownes PA USA, a non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization with the mission of promoting, preserving and enhancing the culture, heritage and related commerce and recreational activities in the Pennsylvania Susquehanna river towns of Columbia, Marietta and Wrightsville and surrounding areas. There are ruins of several anthracite furnaces nearby. Up on the other side of Route 30, near town there is still a building which remains from that era of iron making.

Due to its strategic importance, this was a very dangerous site to be making coal during the war. Harrisburg is only 25 miles away up river. The Rebels at the time were traveling west and wanted to cross the Wrightsville-Columbia wooden, covered bridge and enter Columbia. They wanted to then move down the river and attack Harrisburg from the east while another contingent of troops would continue on the other side and attack form the west. They were stopped in York County before crossing the bridge as the folks in Columbia (actually Union troops I think), burned the whole darn bridge, thus stopping the Confederates in their tracks. If the southerners crossed, they would have destroyed the entire iron making complex that existed along the banks of the Susquehanna and this would have been an entirely different waymark.

There is also a marker here which explains about the contribution of this area of the United States to the Union victory and preservation of the country. The Pennsylvania Civil War Trails organization is still hard at work erecting this historical Civil War markers throughout this part of Pennsylvania. This beauty is but the latest. It is so new, it is not even listed on their marker database yet. All the markers are similar in appearance and are designed to tie in a region or site with the War and help interpret the impact the site had on the war and vice versa. The marker is located at a beautiful, scenic area overlooking the Susquehanna River called Breezy Overlook which is maintained by the Susquehanna Heritage Trail. The interpretive is right in front of the split rail fence that separates you and 50 feet of rough terrain below. The marker reads:

During the Civil War an industrial complex existed on the floodplain along the Susquehanna River between Marietta and Columbia which included eight anthracite-fired iron furnaces and the canal and railroad facilities which served them. This historic complex possessed regional importance during its period of major activity from about 1845 to 1900 as a producer of pig iron. The furnaces exemplified the technology of the period by their use of anthracite coal for the smelting of iron ores. Because northeastern Pennsylvania could supply a rich source of anthracite and because the Pennsylvania Canal made it possible to transport this coal to areas which had none, anthracite-fired furnaces, using locally available iron ores, were built throughout the eastern part of the state. These furnaces helped make Pennsylvania a leader in iron production.

Lancaster County ranked high in Pennsylvania in production of pig iron during this era, and the complex of eight furnaces along the Susquehanna contributed significantly to that output. Had the Confederate Army been able to cross the Susquehanna River in 1863, they could have decimated the local iron industry and transportation networks, which would have been disastrous to the Union's war effort.

The bottom right shows a black and white photo of a 19th century ironworks factory along the banks of the Susquehanna on the Columbia side. There is a link at the bottom, www.visitPA.com. The top left of the marker bears the Pennsylvania Civil War Trails logo. The top center of the marker has an illustration of an early ironworker courtesy of the National Civil War Museum.

Related Website: [Web Link]

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