Rivertownes PA USA Update

Rivertownes PA USA has been busy during 2019-2020, expanding and increasing the community awareness of the river towns and the iron industry that lined the banks of the Susquehanna River during the mid 18th to early 19th century. The following events and activities are a small part of what has been accomplished:

A description of the Musselman/Vesta Iron Furnace Complex Diorama using the Sanborn Insurance Map. The diorama has been highlighted with the addition of LED light in each of the furnace structures. The lighting will be tied to a PowerPoint presentation. Visitors will be guided around the diorama with this addition.

A brick walkway has been installed at the Musselman Vesta Iron Furnace Center. This was an Eagle Scout project for a local young man. The walkway used brick from the furnace ruins and the mound of casting sand.

The addition of a self-guided walking tour around the Musselman Vesta Complex has been augmented with the placing of eight 12 x 12 fiberglass embedded panels. This enables visitors to learn the history of the furnaces when the Center is not open.

A new welcome information sign has been installed at the Iron Center. The sign includes a Marietta information panel, a blackboard panel for updating events, and the Musselman Vesta Iron Furnace Center sign. The flower pots are steel replicas of the furnace workers pushing the ore buggies.

2019 brought national recognition to the Rivertownes area. The Susquehanna National Heritage Area is a non-profit organization and Congressionally-designated coordinating entity for America’s 55th National Heritage Area. We collaborate with local, state and national partners to advance our vision for the Susquehanna National Heritage Area as a national destination for outdoor fun and cultural discovery. With this designation, the river town area will welcome many visitors. This national recognition goes hand in hand with the newest national park, the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail.

Rivertownes PA USA is excited to be working with the river towns of Columbia, Marietta, Wrightsville and the surrounding areas to promote the local history in the new National Heritage Area. In 2019, we introduced the Historic Marietta panels. These full color fiberglass embedded panels relate the history of homes or structures in the river town of Marietta.

With the upcoming installation of the St. Charles hot-blast iron furnace historical panel along the Lancaster County Northwest River Trail, the history of the Lancaster County Iron Industry has been expanded. The panel describes the function of the furnace, pictures of the Chestnut Hill ore pit, now Lake Grubb, and history of the Grubb family. This panel was sponsored by the Donegal Rotary Club.

In the summer of 2019, the Lancaster County Park and Recreation extended the Musselman/Vesta lease to include all of the furnace complex ruins.

Iron Industry Walking Tours will be continued in the spring and fall. This is a continuation of the walks that were started by Dr. June Evans. In 2019, we conducted two walks reaching nearly 75 interested folks. The new Iron Industry Walking Tour handout was used along with the Iron Industry Pocket Guide. The walk starts at the Musselman Vesta Iron Furnace Center with a walk through the furnace ruins and a walk to the Henry Clay Furnace on the Northwest River Trail.