Attraction

Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site

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

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Photo by R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia
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Overview

History is everywhere at Hopewell Furnace.

Set inside the 848-acre 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

The 800-acre Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site offers an idyllic view of a Colonial and early-1800s “iron plantation” that used slave and free labor. Built in 1771 by the ironmaster 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.

After Bird and his business succumbed to financial problems, Clement Brooke presided over the facility’s best years, from 1816 to 1831. Brooke eventually retired in 1848.

The furnace, which operated until 1883, produced 115 big guns for the Continental Navy. Other items once produced at the site include plowshares, pots, stoves and scale weights.

Today, it’s hard to believe that less than 150 years ago, the surrounding hills were cut bare, and the air would have been filled with the noise and the soot of the iron furnaces. The old growth forest of American Chestnut is gone, but good land management has allowed the forests to heal, and eastern sections of the 848-acre French Creek State Park are returning to mature old growth forest.

Don’t Miss

The agricultural tool exhibit allows children to examine these items in the Visitor Center; there are also small farm animals, such as chickens, and apple trees ready to pick in season.

Visitors can try their hands at shearing the older sheep, and in the early spring they might even see newly born lambs.

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