Monday, April 11, 2016

Brady's Bend Iron Works

These remains of two iron furnaces at Brady's Bend, PA originated in 1839. In February of that year, Philander C. Raymond, a New York Iron Master purchased the land that became the site of the Great Western Iron Company. This company initially produced strip rails and expanded their operations up through 1842. By 1843 the company ran into financial difficulties and they ceased operations while searching for more funds. 


In 1844 some of the previous owners of Great Western formed the Brady's Bend Iron Company and purchased the bankrupt company. This company enjoyed great success up through the mid 1850's producing rail for the then booming railroad industry. At this time they employed nearly 500 people. However, the Panic Of '57 and the depression that followed brought railroad construction and the need for iron to a halt. Unable to find a market for their iron, the company shut down in 1858.


In 1861, William B. Ogden, the first Mayor of Chicago and noted canal and railroad industrialist purchased the iron works. In 1862 following the Pacific Railroad act Ogden became the first president of the Union Pacific Railroad. He was a very busy man. Seizing the opportunity to combine iron rail production with his railroad ventures, Ogden re-fired the works in December of 1862. The iron works began turning profits in mid 1863 despite being under-capitalized with an initial stock offering of only $45,000.00. At this time the company began building houses for its employees. Initially 70 houses were constructed but there would be 150 by 1865. The company also constructed  Presbyterian and Episcopal Churches and a grocery store. The rapid growth during the Civil War found the iron works undermanned. The search was out to find all the iron and coal miners they could and bring them to Brady's Bend. The company's mines could not produce enough iron ore to meet the demands of its furnaces and realized financial difficulties importing ore by train. This and the reduction of iron demand following the Civil War proved difficult for the company and they fell into debt. On January 30, 1866 Ogden stepped down and was replaced by Samuel G. Wheeler. The company saw an upswing from the oil boom and the construction of the railroad from Brady's Bend to Oil City in 1868.


In 1869 Wheeler stepped down and W.D. Slack took over. Brady's Bend grew tremendously under Slack's leadership with holdings at over $7,000,000 and nearly 1,400 employees by 1872. Despite all this the company was still facing financial difficulties. In March 1873 the laborers went on strike due to not having been paid in months. The strike didn't last long and the workers were reassured that they would paid. In June of that year the machinery broke down and the works were shut down for one week. In July the workers went on strike again because they still hadn't been paid. The financial situation was too great for the company. In September 1873 they sent out their last shipment of rails and in October the furnaces were blown out for good. In 1894 another attempt was made to open the iron works but it failed. The bank foreclosed the land and sold it to Col. Edward W. Dewey in 1901 for $40,000. Dewey's son, Edward R. Dewey managed the land until the late 1900's and leased it for real estate, oil and gas development and 1,000 acres were donated to the State Game Preserve.


Today there are ruins of two iron furnaces sitting behind a baseball field.



Photo of the iron furnaces sent to me by Google Effects.


The two iron furnaces.

You can see part of the arch under all this rubble.

Portions of this stone are still very tight.

Perfectly smooth angles.


Interesting map of the iron works and associated mines.


Another map. (Maps courtesy of Ancestor Tracks)



  1. Nice report!
    Appears some tree cutting has occurred here. Hopefully that means some kind of restoration or preservation of this historic site.

    Eric Johnson

    1. Hey Eric! Yeah, there's some people working on it. If you're on Facebook they have a page called "Brady's Bend Furnace Project". Check it out. The one girl is doing phenomenal research.