While driving through Lonaconing, Md., yesterday, I happened upon a nativity scene in the mouth of the furnace.George's Creek Coal and Iron Co. Furnace No. 1 is the town's most striking landmark, a legacy of pre-Civil War industry. The town dates its founding from the year the furnace opened. The furnace produced pig iron from 1839 until 1856 and was the first iron furnace in the United States to successfully use not charcoal but coal and coke, both abundant in Allegany County. The George's Creek company soon, in fact, dropped the iron business to concentrate solely on the coal.
These photos don't really convey how massive the thing is, and how startling it is to unsuspecting passers-by on Route 36. Commonly heard from the passenger seat: "WHAT in the world was THAT? Turn around!" Here's a shot of Sydney and Lily in front of the furnace mouth this summer.And here's a shot of Sydney "hiding" in the furnace mouth.