Friday, September 19, 2014
Inquirer Daily News
Visitor Guide GPTMC

Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site

Visitors standing just outside of the modern Visitor Center on top of a hill overlooking the 800-acre site are treated to 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, blacksmith shop, office store, charcoal house and even a schoolhouse.An introductory film in the Visitor Center, before taking off on a self-guided tour, focuses on many topics, including how Bird (a colonel and quartermaster in the Continental Army) supported Washington’s forces with cannon, shot, shell and even flour. The furnace, which operated until 1883, produced 115 big guns for the Continental Navy. Other items once produced at the site included plowshares, pots, stoves and scale weights. Hopewell Furnace lies at the center of French Creek State Park, and consists of 14 restored structures as well as the paths, fields and meadows of the one-time working village. The buildings include a blast furnace, the ironmaster's mansion, and auxiliary structures. Today, the site is an interesting visit for the hikers, backpackers, and campers who are spending time at French Creek State Park. Bird-watchers and nature photographers as well as hitory buffs enjoy the tours, and picnics are encouraged. It’s hard to believe that little more than 100 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. You may even see some white-tail deer, or curious raccoons. Hopewell Furnace was erected at the dawn of America’s Revolution. After Bird and his business succumbed to financial problems, Clement Brooke later presided over the facility’s best years, from 1816 to 1831. Brooke eventually retired in 1848. In 1883 Hopewell Furnace closed as an iron-making facility.

Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site
Nearby Venues
  • Crow's Nest Preserve
  • French Creek State Park
  • Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site
843 Park Rd., Elverson, PA 19520
(610) 582-8773