Article ID: CBB238601336

The Archaeology of Failure: An Example from the Juniata Iron District of Pennsylvania (2015)

unapi

Scott D. Heberling (Author)


IA. The Journal of the Society for Industrial Archeology
Volume: 41
Issue: 1/2
Pages: 25-47


Publication Date: 2015
Edition Details: THEME ISSUE: THE ARCHEOLOGY OF INDUSTRY IN PENNSYLVANIA
Language: English

The American charcoal iron industry of the early nineteenth century exhibited a fine line between success and failure. While many factors affected the survival and profitability of charcoal ironworks, certain key decisions related to initial site selection and the management of natural resources were critical. This is illustrated by the experience of Winchester and Rockhill furnaces, located in the Juniata District of central Pennsylvania. These adjacent ironworks were built and operated independently while sharing the same environmental setting, sources of raw materials, labor pool, and dam and race system. One was moderately successful while the other had a short and troubled existence and was not a success by any standard. Throughout their existence, these small ironworks struggled, often unsuccessfully, to produce a quality product and to remain competitive within an evolving industry. Both suffered from unreliable water power, relatively poor market access, lack of vertical integration, and ores of variable quality, but Winchester had special problems that ultimately proved fatal, leading to its abandonment after only sixteen years of sporadic operation by a succession of managers. Rockhill survived for two more decades. In an industry in which the median life span for rural blast furnaces was only fifteen years, Winchester and Rockhill furnaces were more typical than the handful of better-known Juniata ironworks that had long and successful careers. [2020 Vogel Prize winner]

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Article Christine Davis (2015) Jones and Laughlin Steel Works: 130 Years of Industry/25 Years of Archaeology. IA. The Journal of the Society for Industrial Archeology (pp. 131-142). unapi

Article Brian L. Fritz; Jason Espino (2015) Sand Manufacturing in Western Pennsylvania: The Spring Creek Glass Sand Works. IA. The Journal of the Society for Industrial Archeology (pp. 113-130). unapi

Article Gary F. Coppock (2015) Abraham S. Valentine's Log Washer and the Resuscitation of the Nineteenth-Century Iron Industry of Central Pennsylvania. IA. The Journal of the Society for Industrial Archeology (pp. 48-69). unapi

Article Gerald M. Kuncio (2015) Disappearing Icon: The Pennsylvania Turnpike's Rigid-Frame Bridges. IA. The Journal of the Society for Industrial Archeology (pp. 143-151). unapi

Article Gary F. Coppock (2015) Foreword: Theme Issue: The Archeology of Industry in Pennyslvania. IA. The Journal of the Society for Industrial Archeology (pp. 3-4). unapi

Article Steven A. Walton (2015) Machinery to Match the Materials: Iron Ore Washing in Pennsylvania. IA. The Journal of the Society for Industrial Archeology (pp. 71-92). unapi

Article Benjamin Resnick (2015) Bark, Liquor, and Skins: Late 19th-century Tanning on Pittsburgh's Northside. IA. The Journal of the Society for Industrial Archeology (pp. 93-112). unapi

Citation URI
http://data.isiscb.org/isis/citation/CBB238601336/

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Authors & Contributors
Gordon, Robert B.
Walton, Steven A.
Victor R. Rolando
Knowles, Anne Kelly
Edward F. Heite
David P. Staley
Journals
IA. The Journal of the Society for Industrial Archeology
Publishers
University of Chicago Press
Concepts
Industrial archaeology
Iron and iron industry
Charcoal and charcoal industry
Blast furnaces
Iron, Cast
Research methods
People
Eliot, Jared
Places
United States
Pennsylvania (U.S.)
New York (U.S.)
Connecticut (U.S.)
Maryland (U.S.)
Virginia (U.S.)
Times
19th century
18th century
17th century
Institutions
West Point Foundry
Adirondack Iron and Steel Company
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