Nessley Chapel Cemetery

Peter Tarr's Furnace

In 1794, Peter Tarr establised the first iron furnace west of the Alleghenies. It was located in Hancock County, on the property of pioneer James Campbell. Shortly before he bought the furnace, a man named Grant built the furnace on Kings Creek. When he could not maintain the business, the firm of Connell, Tarr, & Co. was established.

The furnace had a capacity of about 2 tons per day. It had a hollow base about 8 feet high and 8 feet square. This is the area where the refining process took place. Above the base was a circular chimney which was about 20 feet high.

Even though coal was plentiful in the earth of this region, no attempt had been made at mining. The furnace was fueled from timber obtained from the surrounding hills. The furnace was lined with stone which seemed to have hardened under the intense heat. The shell of the furnace is still visible at the original site. It is a permanent landmark, and has been marked with a metal plaque by the Weirton American Legion, Post No. 10. The land was donated to the Hancock County Court in 1961, and Weirton Steel Company preserves and maintains the site.

Most metal produced in the furnace was used for skillets, kettles, grates and other household utensils. Many vendors came directly to the furnace to buy their wares, but most metal ware was sent to a store at Wellsburg, WV. During the War of 1812, the Tarr furnace produced the metal for the cannon balls that Commedore Perry used in the Battle of Lake Erie.

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Copyright © by Janet Waite and Dale Patterson 1997 - 2004; Julia A. Krutilla - 2004-2008

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