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Lemont Furnace - Without the aid of an atlas or encyclopedia

Lemont lies in the Southwestern corner of Pennsylvania in Fayette County Between Uniontown and Connellsville, about 1 mile south of Route 119 (as the crow flies), about three miles Northeast of Uniontown.

At this writing I have no idea what the population is, but my guess is perhaps 3500.  I'll make corrections if necessary, folks.  Just let me know.

Lemont Furnace grew up with the coal mines in the 1900's and prospered while the mines were productive. 

Coal was king in Fayette County, and many small towns sprung up around the coal mines; towns with names associated with the coal companies as was Victory#1 and Victory#2, also near Uniontown, as well as Continental #1, Continental #2, Oliver 1 and 2, Leisenring 1 and 2, Perryopolis, Maxwell, and others.  Lemont Furnace was also a coal town.

At a Lemont Furnace Community "Reunion" Picnic on August 29, 1998, Master of Ceremonies Walter "Buzz" Storey* submitted the following:

Lemont Furnace, a landmark community in North Union Township, was one of the most important industrial centers in Fayette County, for both iron and coal.

"Furnace" is officially part of the town name, dating back almost 130 years, but is usually omitted in casual conversation.

Lemont sprawls along the foot of the mountain at the eastern edge of the Connellsville Coking Region, about three miles northeast of Uniontown.

The first Settler, in the 1700's was Samuel McClean, a brother of Col. Alexander McClean, the Uniontown surveyor and county official.

Lemont was one of the key mining and coke-making centers in the county for almost the entire time of the coal and coke boom. From the late 1870's into the 1950's. It was the site of Lemont No. 1 and 2 mines, had almost 600 coke ovens in 1900 and still possessed 300 in 1951 when the coal era was winding down. It was one of the largest Frick (U.S. Steel) patches, with dozens of houses, a company store and a school.

The former company store building is now occupied by the North Union Volunteer Fire Department. The elementary school was destroyed by fire several years ago.

The Lemont furnace opened January 1, 1876, one of four large county iron-making complexes of the time (the others were Dunbar, Oliphant Furnace and Fairchance). Using coke instead of charcoal for fuel, they replaced the small iron furnaces of earlier times.

The big advantage for Lemont Furnace was that it had all the ingredients in one place, mining coal, iron ore and limestone, and transporting them to the furnace on tramways. The complex covered 2,000 acres and the furnace stack was 60 feet high.

But the furnace had only a brief run before falling victim to changing times. The Pittsburgh steel industry turned to more abundant and better-grade iron ore from the Great Lakes region, and the Lemont furnace closed in 1888 -- but the coal and coke kept flowing to the mills.

Two coal-hauling railroads ran through the town (and so did the streetcars' main line). And therein hangs another place-name. Darent was the name which the Southwest Pennsylvania Railroad (later PRR) gave to its station at Lemont. The other railroad was the B&O.

The Lemont Furnace Post Office was established about 1876, at the same time the furnace was going into operation, with T. Zebley as the first postmaster.

The post office serves a wide area in addition to the town itself, on rural routes through expanding suburbia.

(Submitted by Irene Lucas Briscar)

 

 

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Walter "Buzz" Storey is a retired journalist from the Herald-Standard and is an encyclopedia of information on Fayette County. He has written a book entitled "Stories of Uniontown and Fayette County"

Another book written by an associate of Mr. Storey is "In Other Years" by John K."Jack" Gates. Unfortunately Jack is afflicted with altzheimers and is now confined to a nursing home.

These publications are a wealth of information.  They may be available in bookstores. Publishing information is as follows:

"Stories of Uniontown and Fayette County"
By Walter "Buzz" Storey
Copyright 1993 by Walter J. Storey Jr.
(Material copyrighted by Uniontown Newspapers Inc. used by permission)
Printed in USA by Stefano's Printing, Dunbar, Pa.

"In Other Years" Uniontown and southern Fayette County
Published by PHOTOGRAPHIT
12 South Gallatin Avenue
Uniontown, Pa 15401
Copyright, 1979 by John K. Gates   [ BACK ]