Furnace Falls


Photo of ruins
Ruins of a log cabin
©Jeri Danyleyko

Furnace Falls started out as a small townsite and siding, built to accommodate the nearby iron mines in Irondale. First settled in 1874, its brief history was tied to the success and subsequent demise of the Irondale mines.

The Snowdon Iron Mine officially got its start in 1874. After several sporadic and unsuccessful mining attempts by a variety of individuals, Charles Pusey and his partner, H.S. Howland, partners from the U.S., were finally able to get the project off the ground by the early 1880s.

The success of Irondale mines ultimately depended on railway access. Howland and Pusey received a charter for the Toronto & Nipissing Extension Railway in 1880. Originally they intended to build a 50-mile (80 kilometres) line running east to Kinmount through an area thought to contain vast mineral reserves. However investors and money were not forthcoming and the project languished. Revival of the project in 1884 resulted in a new name, the Irondale, Bancroft & Ottawa Railway/ The name was a misnomer. The railway never actually made it to Bancroft or to Ottawa. Construction finally began in the spring of 1886. By 1887, there were 10 miles (14 kilometres) of track running from Howland Junction to Irondale. From then on construction carried on in intermittent bursts until 1896. Construction stopped three miles short of the Ontario Railway in Bancroft.

Furnace Falls was a small siding on the Irondale, Bancroft and Ottawa Railway. It was located about halfway between Howland and Irondale. In addition to the shed sized flag station and freight siding, it included a store and smelting works. J.C. Parry, who also operated a saw and shingle mill, opened the first post office in 1883. Jeremiah Herlibrey, a carpenter, served as postmaster from 1886 until his death in 1910. The Carr family took over the store and post office in 1912. That lasted until 1967 when it finally closed for good.

Furnace Falls’ unusual name originated from the days when blast furnaces and smelters played a major part in mining operations. Blast furnaces fell out of use following a devastating fire in 1887.

Closure of the mine and removal of the siding around 1900 led to the end of the community. The post office and store likely served rural residents in the area. The population had never grown beyond 50. Nothing remains of the original community but the falls themselves, which were not located on the actual townsite, remain a popular tourist attraction.

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