Historical Markers
Durham Furnace Historical Marker
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Durham Furnace

Philadelphia and its Countryside/Lehigh Valley


Marker Location:
PA 212 at Durham

Dedication Date:
November 21, 1947

Behind the Marker

Image of the Durham Iron Works exterior.
The Durham Iron Works, Bucks County, PA, circa 1890.
Durham Furnace was the creation of William Allen, Joseph Galloway, and James Logan, three enterprising Philadelphia merchants with influential connections to Pennsylvania government. In 1727, the three men pooled their capital with nine other investors to build a furnace and three forges on Durham Creek in upper Bucks County. For the next thirty years, the Durham works produced large amounts of bar iron, and tools, pots, pans, ornaments, fireplace equipment, and other iron products for domestic products.

After George Taylor, one of the first managers, leased the Furnace in 1753, the new operators produced an even greater variety of products. While Joseph Galloway owned the Furnace, Taylor still retained his interest in the operation by holding the lease. By the 1770s Taylor had become immersed in provincial politics as a radical member of the Pennsylvania Assembly. He served on committees of correspondence, organized militia companies in Bucks County, and as a Pennsylvania representative in the Continental Congress signed the Declaration of Independence.

Mixing his political and business interests, Taylor transformed the ironworks into a munitions factory for the Continental Army. Durham produced cannon, cannonballs, shot, and other military equipment, probably at a financial loss. But Taylor's commitment to an independent United States took precedence over financial gain. Others connected with Durham also served the patriot cause, including ironworker Daniel Morgan, who became a general in the Continental Army.

It was Taylor's misfortune, however, to be only a leaseholder. An prominent opponent of American independence, Galloway, who owned the Durham ironworks, joined the British forces in New York in 1776 and returned with them to Pennsylvania in 1777, where he served William Howe as the civilian commander of police forces in occupied Philadelphia. For these actions he became one of the most despised loyalists in Pennsylvania. Once the British fled, the state confiscated all of his property, including Durham.
Black and white image of the buildings at Durham Furnace.
Durham Mill and Furnace is located on Durham Road in Durham Township, Bucks...

Durham's other contribution to the Revolutionary era was the "Durham Boat." Designed to transport iron ore, limestone, charcoal, finished bar iron, and other goods up ands down the Delaware River, forty of these large, shallow vessels were commandeered by the Continental Army in December 1776. On Christmas day, General George Washington and a small army of 2,400 men boarded the boats and markercrossed the Delaware River at McConkey's Ferry in lower Bucks County to surprise and defeat a garrison of 1,500 Hessians at Trenton, New Jersey.

Durham owners made significant improvements to the ironworks during the nineteenth century. In 1812 they built a brick warehouse with a gambrel roof, and in 1820 constructed a three-story stone gristmill. Powered by an overshot wheel that drew its water from Cook's Creek by way of a three-quarter-mile-long raceway, the mill operated continuously until 1967. Today, Durham Mill and Furnace is located on Durham Road in Durham Township, Bucks County, but is not open to the public.
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