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Plans to restore Elizabeth Furnace get under way

A group of concerned citizens met last month to discuss the future of Elizabeth Furnace in Pinecroft.
Elizabeth Furnace is located along Sandy Run, off the Little Juniata River in Pinecroft, Antis Township.
Built in 1832, it was owned at one time by Martin and Edward Bell.
In 1836 Elizabeth Furnace utilized its gases for steam, and it is thought to be the first blast furnace in Pennsylvania to do so. The furnace stood between 30 and 34 feet high. Previous researchers found the furnace to be in excellent condition in the 1960s, however by 2003, it was found to be only in fair condition.
As the furnace continues to deteriorate, several local residents began to consider the possibility of restoring the historical landmark. There are also rocks and brush that need to be cleared from around the furnace. Last month’s meeting, held at the Pinecroft Fire Hall was informational. According to James Otto, there seems to be some interest in the project.
Along with Otto, Mary Brunner, was also in attendance to share her knowledge as she spoke on the history of the furnace.
Otto said, “People have been very willing to go along with the plans.”
He said the current owner of the property, where Elizabeth Furnace sits, agreed to donate the property in order for it to be restored.
Antis Supervisors said they would like to try to keep the project local.
“My thing is, I want it restored,” said Otto.
He explained for more than 50 years the furnace was a vital part of the community. The iron from Elizabeth Furnace would be taken to Mary Ann Forge. Overall, the furnace supported about 1000 members in the community.
“I think the more interest we get, the better,” said Otto.
“I would like to see an area where people could stop their cars and take a look around.”
He explained it wouldn’t even have to be a park, just a place that was available to the community.
Otto is very interested in the historical significance Elizabeth Furnace has had in the area. He said he is determined to see the project get underway and hopes the other members of the community feel the same. Still in the beginning stages, the project could possibly see an alliance with Penn State if the school showed interest.
Otto said he will continue to work towards getting the project going. Meetings will be held for interested citizens as the planning continues.