The peaceful countryside surrounding Hopewell Furnace and the village built to support the furnace invites you to put aside modern devices and simply live. As visitors step away from our hurried times and into the Pennsylvania iron industry, there is a great deal to be experienced through a leisurely walk.
Hopewell Furnace has a long history, having been founded in 1771 and operating until 1883. The Furnace, one of several in the area is ideally situated among iron mines and rich forests, providing a ready source of charcoal. Mark Bird, the site’s founder, made cannon and shot for the Continental Navy during the Revolutionary war. Unfortunately, the grateful nation was unable to pay its bills, that debt, coupled with a flood forced Bird out of the business. The forge had a series of owners during its long history.
Hopewell Furnace National Park is one of only three National Parks to have farm animals. The animals and working orchard demonstrate that industry and agriculture were practiced side by side. “Meet the Farm Animals” days are among the parks’ most popular events. Max, the Percheron horse is an excellent listener even though he doesn’t talk much. Max enjoys company so much that the park is seeking the donation of another horse, like Max, to join the farm.
Hopewell Furnace has activities throughout most of the year. In fall, apple picking in the Hopewell orchard boasts 30 varieties of pick your own Pennsylvania apples. There are plenty of demonstrations of the iron industry and fabric arts throughout the summer. For a full schedule, visit https://www.nps.gov/hofu/index.htm
As you drive to Hopewell Furnace, you may notice other Furnaces and Forges. Do you know the difference? If not, and you see me volunteering at the Hopewell Visitor’s Center, just ask!