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Wait continues for Elizabeth Furnace restoration project funding

A group of concerned citizens began meeting last summer to discuss the future of Elizabeth Furnace in Pinecroft.
Things got off to a slow start and are not moving much faster today, but they are moving in the right direction.
James Otto, who set out last summer to increase interest in the restoration, said Bill Anderson of the Little Juniata River Association and Jim Eckenrode of the Blair County Soil Conservation District, have both been a big help.
Currently, there are ongoing negotiations to acquire all the wetlands, including the furnace project land, by the Little Juniata River Association. Eventually plans include a nature project to improve Sandy Run creek.
According to Otto, Eckenrode is making contacts to further explore and document the history of Elizabeth Furnace. He is consulting with other conservancies to ask for assistance.
He has also located an individual who will hopefully be able to offer an artist’s rendering of the vision for the furnace when completed.
Also, the Blair County Genealogical Society has expressed interest in promoting the project.
While interest in the project may be growing, the first step is to acquire ownership of the land.
Right now, the furnace sits on private property and individuals are not permitted on the land.
“It’s a slow process,” said Otto, “with all the legal issues and things.
“We really need to raise funds so we will have the money to purchase the land. That’s where we’re at, but we’re still trying.”
Contributions of any amount are greatly appreciated and will help advance the project. All tax deductible contributions can be sent to the Southern Alleghenies Conservancy at: SAC Elizabeth Furnace project, 702 West Pitt Street, Suite 8, Bedford, Pa. 15522.
Individuals interested in Elizabeth Furnace can also purchase a medallion featuring the landmark from the Bellwood-Antes Historical Society for $8.
Fifth in a series, the medallion features a picture of Elizabeth Furnace and reads Elizabeth Furnace, Sabbath Rest and Pinecroft. The historical society has agreed to donate a portion of the proceeds from the sale of this medallion to the Elizabeth Furnace project.
Medallions can be purchased at B-A Historical Society meetings or by calling Mary Brunner at 684-4884.
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.
Over the years, various individuals took interest in the furnace, but last summer’s meetings began a new phase as more people became interested and got involved.
Previously, 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 1,000 members in 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 under way and hopes the other members of the community feel the same.