Peter Tarr Furnace

Panhandle Trail

Commerce, Economy & Work Native American History Science, Technology, Engineering, and Medicine

The Tarr furnace’s round chimney is an unusual design—more commonly, they were built with square or rectangular chimneys.

Although this iron furnace is named for Peter Tarr, it was originally built around 1790 by a man named Grant. Tarr took it over in 1794 and created a profitable enterprise turning iron ore into household goods like skillets. It is believed to be the first iron furnace west of the Alleghenies—but if not the first, it was among the earliest! [1]

Current-day Hancock County, West Virginia, was inhabited and hunted by members of the Iroquois Confederacy, the Shawnee, the Mingo and other Indigenous groups, but by 1790 was also heavily occupied by European settlers. Although brutal conflicts had taken place in the preceding decades, between early settlers and Native Americans, people still flooded over the Alleghenies after the Revolutionary War, undeterred in their pursuit of land to claim. Tarr took advantage of this growing market, selling all sorts of iron products—from utensils to cannonballs—before ceasing production in the mid-19th century. [2]


  • [1] National Register of Historic Places, Peter Tarr Furnace Site, Hancock County, WV, National Register #76001935.
  • [2] Jack Welch, History of Hancock County: Virginia and West Virginia (Wheeling, WV: The Wheeling News Printing & Litho Co., 1963), 9-11, 31-2.

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