Interested in Danville?
We'll send you updates with the latest deals, reviews and articles for Danville each week.
You may also be interested in these deals within ten kilometres of Danville:
The hills surrounding Danville, a community on the banks of the Susquehanna River in Montour County, Pennsylvania, were filled with two of the three natural resources needed to make iron: iron ore and limestone. The third, a source of fuel, was readily available by boat. Rafts and arks on the Susquehanna River, which was not navigable during most of the year, and barges on the North Branch Canal provided the Danville furnaces with anthracite coal, a superior alternative to the charcoal they had been using. These same waterways then carried iron products, including t-rails, out of the area to a growing nation.
Railroads promised a solution to a growing nation’s need for faster, more dependable transportation. Many early U.S. railroads were built with strap rails - iron strips attached to wooden rails. Strap rails required constant maintenance and were dangerous for anyone riding in a passenger car. The strap rails often got loose from the wood they were nailed to, and the ends of them tore upward through the wooden floor of the coach. The need for a stronger, more durable rail was undisputed and it was just then that furnaces like the ones built for the Montour Ironworks in 1840 and the mill that was built in 1844 were working to develop and produce stronger iron rails.
On October 8, 1845, the first T-rail rolled with iron ore smelted with anthracite coal was produced by The Montour Iron Works in Danville. That accomplishment gained the company fame throughout the world and thousands of spectators came to Danville to watch the T-rails being rolled. In the 1850s, the Montour Ironworks operated the largest rail mill in the country. More rails were produced at this iron mill than any at any other in the United States. The Montour Ironworks, after many changes of managers and ownership, became the property of the Pennsylvania Iron Company in 1861. At that time, Thomas Beaver, one of the Montour Ironwork’s stockholders, became the resident overseer of the company - a position he held until 1876.
On May 10, 1869, two railroad companies, the Union Pacific and Central Pacific, joined 1,776 miles of railroad at Promontory Summit, Utah Territory. This event sparked opportunities that are still paying dividends for the nation today. Though no documented proof had previously existed to prove Pennsylvania Ironworks’ participation in producing rails for the Transcontinental Railroads, an exciting discovery was made at the Trinity United Methodist Church in Danville in early 2007. An 1860’s time capsule, that had been buried when the church was originally built, was opened and revealed a poster-like “company page” that listed, and showed profile cross sections of, the iron rails that were produced by the Pennsylvania Iron Co. (formerly Montour Iron).
This listing proved that both the Union Pacific and Central Pacific Railroads were customers of the Montour Ironworks. The small town of Danville, Pennsylvania, did, indeed, play a documented role in the westward expansion of the country, but local historians had suspected it all along. Danville, a proud community, celebrates successes and stories like this every year during July at the Iron Heritage Festival, a multi-day event consisting of historic demonstrations, attractions, entertainment and food. You can learn more about Danville, iron and the festival by visiting their website at www.ironheritagefestival.net.