Lead Mine Fort, now called Fort Roberdeau after its builder General Roberdeau, was a source of lead for ammunition for the Continental Army during the American Revolution. Lead was mined and smelted there and then carried down the Juniata River by canoe. William S. Brown was among those who helped builld it back in his revolutionary days. From his war pension application: "He marched on the 1st of April from Bedford County Pennsylvania where he resided at the time of his enlistment, to a place called 'Sinking Valley' on the east side of the Alleghany ridge, through what is now Huntington and a thinly settled country fifty or more miles north of the town of Bedford of said county of Bedford, where he was stationed the whole eight months, to guard the frontier settlers in that region from the Indians. While stationed there, he assisted in erecting a fort called 'lead mine fort'..."
Bobby Brown visited Lead Mine Fort in August 1997: "The subject fort was built NE of Altoona, PA near Culp, PA (in today's Blair County) during the Summer/Fall period of 1778.... The fort lost it's last battle to survive and rotted away over the years. But it was discovered by historians who were able to successfully lead a group to rebuild the fort. It was nothing but rotten timbers on the ground when found." He took the pictures here and made the accompanying comments.
"Note the wood timbers were stacked horizontal between only a few verticle posts. This was because the ground was rock just below the surface and they could not dig verticle holes to make a verticle wall as was most common with other forts:"
"As I recall these were munitions storage buildings in the corner of the fort:"
"This was the Smelter where they placed the rocks from the mine which had lead embedded in them. They built a strong fire under the layer of stones and heated them until the lead would melt and run out of the rocks dripping into a small pit in the ground. At the other end from where we are viewing this was a small opening where the lead would run out. It formed into Ingots(sp) for loading and piling onto wagons to transport to other locations to be processed into lead bullets, rifle balls, cannon balls or what ever was used on the battle fields."
"The Smelter had logs laid in the bottom with stones/rocks placed over the burning logs. The lead would melt out of the stones onto the ground and run out the hole you see at the bottom. It was then shipped out for processing:"
"This was the Blacksmith shop. I don't know what all they might use it for but I would think everything from wagon wheel repairs to horse harnesses."
Lead Mine Fort is next to Culp, about halfway between Altoona PA in Blair County, and Union Furnace just over the Huntingdon County line:
More on Lead Mine Fort can be found on this page of the 1896 Report Of The Commission To Locate The Sites Of The Frontier Forts Of Pennsylvania.
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