Lebanon County, Pennsylvania

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Lebanon County Courthouse is located at 400 South Eighth Street, Lebanon PA 17042; phone: 717‑274‑2801.


Early History [1]

Formed February 16,1813; Scriptural name, from the cedar trees covering the range of mountains on northern boundary, "Cedars of Lebanon"; settled by Germans in the east, by the Scotch-Irish in the west. Leading industries, agriculture, iron, tobacco. Three solid hills of rich, magnetic iron ore have been worked for over 170 years, and still seem inexhaustible; they require no mining, simply to be quarried; down to the present these mines have produced more iron ore than any other single iron ore property in the United States. In 1737, Peter Grubb became sole owner of these ore hills; he built Hopewell forge on Hammer Creek, and the large blast furnace was named for Cornwall, his ancestral home in England. The property was inherited by his two sons, who were colonels in the Revolutionary War; cannon balls and stoves were cast here for the Continental Army. In 1798, Robert Coleman purchased five-sixths of these ore banks; they were near the old road between Harris Ferry and Philadelphia, known as the Berks and Dauphin Road. Later his grandsons, Robert and G. Dawson Coleman, built furnaces on the Union Canal, then the great means of transportation; by that time charcoal furnaces were going out.

The construction and operation of the Union Canal through this county, connecting the Schuylkill River at Readingwith the Susquehanna at Middletown, was a momentous event, with its tunnel 767 feet long, first in the United States. Extract: "Lebanon, June 15, 1827. Last Monday evening, June 11th, the citizens of this town and vicinity had the privilege of seeing the first boat, the Alpha from Tulpehocken, come up the Union Canal and remain at North Lebanon for the night; the next morning it continued its journey westward and passed through the tunnel; this was the first boat to pass through a tract of ground upon which corn and potatoes were being grown."

Beginnings [2]

This county was formed February 16, 1813, from parts of Dauphin and Lancaster counties, and a finer section or better-cultivated country cannot be found in any part of the State. Its agricultural products amount to over $3,000,000 per annum. Its farms are large, the barns are great in size, and the dwellings commodious size and handsome. Its extensive orchards and fertile meadows are in the highest state of cultivation. The farmers are intelligent and remarkable for their energy. The principal mineral resource of Lebanon is iron of the richest kind. In fact, it might be called the iron county. At a place called Cornwall there is the most valuable mass of iron ore that has ever been discovered on earth. There are three hills of this metal, the middle one being 400 feet high, cone-like, springing up from a base that covers from 40 to 50 acres. This triple mine has been worked for more than a century. In the Revolution of 1776 the proprietors of Cornwall furnished munitions of war from these celebrated iron hills, for the use of the patriotic colonists. Limited space prevents giving a description of this vast Cornwall estate. Suffice it to say, that, with its vast furnaces, its mountains of metal, its iron produce, its splendid farms, its improved stock, and its grandeur in natural luxuriance, it is not paralleled in any part of the known world. The county contains a considerable number of townships, some of them pretty large, and all in the most flourishing condition, with happy and industrious populations. Population in 1870, 34,096; 1880, 38,383.

  1. Archambault, A. Margaretta (ed), A Guide Book of Art, Architecture, and Historic Interests in Pennsylvania, The John C. Winston Company, Philadelphia, 1924
  2. Historical Publishing Company, Industrial and Commercial Resources of Pennsylvania, 1886, New York.


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