I was surprised at the number of people who expressed an interest in this historic site, based on yesterday’s comments. I’m happy to share it with you, so let’s continue our walk through Historic Hopewell Furnace, located just outside of Elverson, Pennsylvania.
As you remember from yesterday’s post, we’d just come out of the woods, and are traveling on the Horseshoe Trail which takes us directly through the village. Here’s the view approaching the buildings from the trail. Behind us are the tenant buildings.
The mist continues to swirl as we walk up the road. You can see the bell tower on the top of the cast house on the left. First, however, we come to the blacksmith shop.
The blacksmith shop provided hardware and horseshoes and was also an informal gathering place for the men who labored here at Hopewell.
The cast house awaits us and it looks really dark in there. There aren’t any lights, but the windows provide enough and I’ve set my camera’s ISO to 1000 to help matters out.
Clockwise from top left: I saw this hook and figured it was made in the blacksmith shop. Hopewell Furnace produced cast iron stove plates and many of them are on display here. Some of the implements used in “flask casking” included wooden frames and sand as well as the items shown here.
The furnace inside the cast house.
The founder was boss, technician, and trouble-shooter. He directed the ceaseless round of activity at Hopewell furnace. Raw materials – iron ore, limestone, and charcoal – were supplied by miners, woodcutters, and colliers and transported by teamsters. Fillers carted materials from the charcoal house area to the bridge house and dumped them at the tunnel head. Guttermen and moulders stood ready below to skim off the slag and cart the molten iron when it was tapped by the founder.
~ From National Park literature
The water wheel has always fascinated me. This is the first time since we’ve been coming here that we’ve actually seen it at work.
American forests were so vast – and bringing in coal so expensive before railroads were built – that early iron plantations like Hopewell made their own fuel. They slowly burned carefully built piles of wood to make charcoal, an almost purely carbon fuel that burns with intense heat. The great demand for charcoal meant that early furnaces were sited on woodlands. One other ingredient was needed: air. It was directed into the hearth under pressure by the water-powered blast machinery, raising the fire in the furnace to smelting temperature.
~ From National Park literature
Let’s head outside now. I think I need some air after all this knowledge. How about we head on over to the barn now? We'll just follow these two guys.
At one time, this barn sheltered 36 draft horses and held a year’s worth of food. Hopewell was both a rural Pennsylvania community and an iron plantation, turning out products for a growing nation and has been beautifully preserved by the National Park Service.
Tomorrow, we’ll check out things up near the iron master’s home. I mean, if you’re still walking with me. You are, aren’t you? We can sit and rest for awhile if you need to!
Until tomorrow then, my friends . . .