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Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site

An early American “Iron Plantation” — a forerunner of today’s iron and steel industries...

Photo by R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia

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History is everywhere at Hopewell Furnace . It’s one of the “iron plantations” that began America’s transformation into an industrial giant.

Set next to French Creek State Park, Hopewell offers an up-close-and-personal look at a colonial-era village dedicated to producing iron.

Inside the 14 restored structures, visitors get a glimpse of daily life in the colonial days and can participate in a variety of demonstrations on charcoal burning and craft making.

Today, the site also serves as an interesting stop for the hikers, backpackers, and campers who are spending time at French Creek State Park.

Bird-watchers and nature photographers, as well as history buffs, enjoy the tours, and picnics are encouraged.

The History

Built in 1771 by Mark Bird, Hopewell Furnace consists of a mansion (the big house), spring and smoke houses, a blacksmith shop, an office store, a charcoal house and even a schoolhouse.

Inside the 14 restored structures, visitors get a glimpse of daily life in the Colonial era.

The 848-acre Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site offers an expansive view of a colonial and early-1800s “iron plantation” that used slave and free labor. It is said that enslaved African Americans dug Hopewell’s original headrace that turned the water wheel to fire the furnace.

The furnace, which operated until 1883, played a major role in the Revolutionary War — producing 115 big guns for the Continental Navy.

Don’t Miss

Staff at Hopewell demonstrate how to make a stove plate using traditional sand molding and aluminum casting techniques in the Cast House. Visitors can also check out blacksmithing and charcoal-making demonstrations.

In addition, there are plenty of apple trees ready to pick when in season and guests can also partake in apple butter making and cider pressing demonstrations.

During the annual Sheep Shearing Day — held on Mother’s Day — visitors can learn about 19th-century shearing techniques and meet newly born lambs.

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