Columbia-Montour Quarterly Vol. 8: April-June 2023

down operations. If it was so difficult and costly to use coal, why change to coal in the first place? Was this what caused their demise? Or, perhaps, it was the competition of the two furnaces located in Danville. Wagner offers another suggestion: the exhaustion of charcoal. He explains this theory in an essay on the furnace located on his website (linked at the end of this article). The Furnace is now gone with little to no traces left. According to Wagner, all that remains is the groundwork of several structures, some ore tailings, and a lot of slag piles. The woods are slowly consuming most of what remains of the charcoal pits and collier huts. The stone from which the furnace was built may have been used to build new furnaces in the Danville area or for the construction of the Catawissa Railroad. Now, we remember the Liberty Furnace through historians and storytellers like Van Wagner and places like the Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site, part of the National Park Service of Pennsylvania. For the full story on the Liberty Furnace and other local history essays, visit Van’s website: and explore the Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site website at:

Present day site of the Liberty Furnace charcoal pit, taken during our group walk.

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