Cornwall Borough resident Bruce Chadbourne offers another of his installments of Cornwall history. This article and its photographs would not be possible without the gracious assistance of Michael Emery, Site Administrator of the Cornwall Iron Furnace.

With the coming of 2023, the Cornwall Iron Furnace intends to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the closure of the Cornwall iron mine by recognizing Cornwall’s “greatest generation,” those few miners and iron workers who remain among us. 

In last week’s article we featured the first video interview of Cornwall miner Clair Bernard and continue as promised with the second interview, of Gerald “Gerry” Boltz who worked the mine as a summer job while attending college locally. The video may be watched here.

YouTube video

In this second hour-long video, Gerry tells his story, from the time he graduated from Lebanon High School in 1962 to working the summer job while in college. He and his wife were life-long teachers in the area, now retired, and continue to live in Lebanon County.

Boltz relates the life of “hard labor” as a mucker, with a shovel constantly in his hand or at his side, cleaning up ore debris by shoveling it back onto the conveyor in Mine No. 3. He recalls observing the use of explosives and equipment to free the iron ore embedded in rock.

On the lighter side, as college students he and his peers were inevitably subjected to some testing and teasing at the hands of the career miners. 

Gerry Boltz, describing view from the bottom of the Open Pit.

Still to come, on Feb. 14, a video will be released featuring Lebanon resident and retired miner Frank Stellar. Frank tells of coming home from World War II with his buddies and finding jobs in the mine. With many tales of working the mine shaft and planting explosives, Frank shares his personal photographs in the video. Stay tuned!

Frank Stellar at the Miner’s Monument, 1993

The release of the first video interview has already prompted replies from a number of  local residents who have memories they’re willing to share with this audience in future interviews. The invitation remains open: Cornwall Iron Furnace hopes there are more retired Cornwall miners and iron workers “out there” who read this and come forward to share their own stories, photos and memorabilia.

Call the furnace at 717-272-9711, or leave a comment in the videos so you may be contacted. A list of names and contact information will aid in planning an anniversary event this coming summer. Your assistance in providing first-hand confirmation of ongoing research will be very helpful.

That’s not to say that only the miners have stories to tell! Certainly there are surviving wives and family members of deceased miners, who have memories or a stash of their own memorabilia. Please share your treasures so that a greater story of the Cornwall iron mine may be preserved for all.

Ideas for future history stories? Let us know here.

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Though he has been traveling through Pennsylvania for over 20 years, Bruce is a relatively new resident of Lebanon County. In part he was drawn here by the fascinating history of the Cornwall Iron Furnace and surrounds. He enjoys a wide variety of hobbies and activities, and in particular has enjoyed...