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The first iron furnace west of the Allegheny Mountains was built in present Hancock County in the early 1790s by a Mr. Grant, and acquired in 1801 by Peter Tarr and James Rankin. Known to history by Peter Tarr’s name, the furnace was located along Kings Creek, a tributary of the Ohio River, just north of Weirton. At its peak, the furnace produced two tons of iron per day. Initially, the molten iron was fashioned into skillets, kettles, and other household utensils. During the War of 1812, the Peter Tarr furnace produced cannonballs for the navy, supposedly including cannonballs used by Commodore Perry’s victorious fleet during the Battle of Lake Erie.

Peter Tarr died in 1839. His furnace’s foundation and oval-shaped salamander, where the iron ore was heated, are still intact below ground level. Partially restored by the Hancock County Historical Society in 1968, the Peter Tarr furnace is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Read the National Register nomination.

This Article was written by Pam Tarr and Daniel Hart

Last Revised on July 01, 2022

Related Articles


Welch, Jack. History of Hancock County. Wheeling News Litho. Co., 1963.

Cite This Article

Tarr, Pam and Daniel Hart "Peter Tarr Furnace." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 01 July 2022. Web. 17 June 2024.


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