Rich past forged in 1800s, still celebrated
DANVILLE - The borough of Danville, founded in 1792, has a rich history of involvement with the iron industry that still resonates with the residents today through the annual Iron Heritage Festival and the Danville Area School District's mascots, the "Ironmen."
Danville's Iron Age, which started when the first iron foundry was established in the borough in 1829, lasted 121 years until 1950, and helped shaped Danville into the community it is today, according to Sis Hause, of the Montour County Historical Society.
In 1839, iron ore started to be mined locally, and in 1840, the first anthracite furnace to efficiently produce iron was opened. By 1845, the first T-rail in America rolled out of Montour Iron Works, the largest iron manufacturing plant in the United States at the time, which made it possible for the state and country to become a leader in the industrial revolution.
However, by the 20th century, the iron industry began to decline with the introduction of the steel industry.
Danville has also been part of several counties, and the county seat of both Columbia and Montour counties.
Originally, Danville was part of Northumberland County. In 1813, Columbia County was formed, and Danville became the county seat until 1845 when Bloomsburg was voted as the seat.
"This upset the people of Danville. Through some political maneuvering, a new county (Montour) was formed in 1850 and Danville was back as the county seat," Hause said.
Despite the split, Montour and Columbia counties are closely associated, sharing a chamber of commerce, a visitor's bureau and a vocational-technical school.
Hause noted that Shamokin and Danville share a connection: John Boyd, the founder of Shamokin, married the daughter of Daniel Montgomery, the founder of Danville.