Teach PA History
Digging, Smelting and Forging: But Why in Pennsylvania?
What to Know
Teaching Time
2 50-minute sessions
Grade Level
Middle School
  • Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening
  • Geography
  • History
  • Science and Technology
Historical Period
  • Colonization and Settlement - 1601-1760
  • New Nation - 1761-1800
  • Expansion and Reform - 1801-1855
  • Civil War and Reconstruction - 1856-1876
In 1759 a gentleman named Israel Acrilius writing on the colonies declared Pennsylvania to be the most advanced in their iron industry. At the time Acrilius noted this, more than fifty furnaces were in existence around the state. In 1870, more than a century later, Pennsylvania still led the nation in iron production, producing twice as much iron as the second-ranking state, New York. Why was Pennsylvania so dominant in the iron industry? What were some of the historical and economic factors which supported this growth and made Pennsylvania an industrial giant during this period in history? Students will explore the natural resources found in Pennsylvania which made iron manufacturing possible, as well as the market demands which contributed to this industry's growth.


1. Identify the natural resources used in the forging of Iron. 2. Identify what made Pennsylvania a prime location for an iron industry. 3. Understand what economical and environmental factors played a role in the iron industry. 4. Identify what other historical events taking place during this time period helped to develop the iron industry in Pennsylvania.

Standards Alignment

  • Geography

    7.1.3 B. Identify and locate places and regions.
    7.2.6. A. Describe physical characteristics of places and regions.
    7.3.6. C. Describe the human characteristics of places and regions by their settlement characteristics.
    7.3.6.D. Describe the human characteristics of places and regions by their economic activities.
    7.4.6. A. Describe the impacts of physical systems on people

  • History

    8.1.6. B. Explain and analyze historical sources.
    8.2.6. B. Identify and explain primary documents, material artifacts and historic sites important in Pennsylvania history from Beginnings to 1824
    8.2.6. C. Identify how continuity and change have influenced settlement patterns (e.g. Development of towns)
    8.3.3. B. Identify and describe primary documents, material artifacts and historic sites important in United States history.
    8.3.6. C. Explain how continuity and change has influenced United States history.

  • Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening

    1.1.8.G. Demonstrate after reading understanding and interpretation of both fiction and nonfiction text, including public documents.
    1.2.8.A. Read and understand essential content of informational texts and documents in all academic areas.

  • Science and Technology

    3.5.7. B. Recognize Earth resources and how they affect every day life.
    3.6.7. C. Explain physical technologies of structural design, analysis and engineering, personnel relations, financial affairs, structural production, marketing, research and design.

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