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.
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.