Hopewell Furnace
2 Mark Bird Lane
Elverson, PA 19520
(610) 582 8773

Places Nearby:
Daniel Boone Homestead
Merritt Museums
Pottsgrove Manor
Limerick Energy Info Center
Berman Art Museum
Mill Grove Audubon
Springton Manor
Boyertown Museum of Historic Vehicles
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"Iron communities," such as the one so aptly portrayed at this National Historic Site, were social entities governed by a hierarchy that was quite practical for its time. The owner of the furnace was virtually a king. He made lots of money and lived in luxury, overseeing and at times directly controlling the lives of the people in his community. The ironmaster, if he was not also the owner, came next, He managed the furnace operation. Personally he prospered to the degree that the furnace prospered. The clerk, functioning basically as a business manager, came next. Then the founder, who supervised the production of iron. His pay depended upon the quality of iron he could produce.

The vast majority of workers, however, did the hard labor, working under conditions that would make today's union members' hair stand on end. In some cases pay was in the form of credit at the company store. While at first that may seem harsh, where else would they spend their money? As we do today, people then exchanged labor for the things of a better life. A cabin with a wood-burning stove was better than a tent and a camp fire.

Hopewell Furnace tells a fascinating story. Built by patriot Mark Bird, the furnace operated from 1771 to 1883. While its most profitable items were stoves, the furnace cast many other objects such as kettles, machinery and grates. This despite England's Act of 1750, prohibiting the manufacture of finished iron products by the colonists (they were supposed to buy them from England).

During the Revolutionary War Hopewell supplied cannon, shot and shell for patriot forces. The furnace reached its peak between 1820 and 1840, then gradually was made obsolete by more efficient processes.

Visitors today will find the furnace as it appeared in its prosperous years. The machinery has been restored and it is quite something to see. During the summer months, activities depicting village trades and crafts are presented, and the calendar includes various events throughout the year, including sheep shearing, apple harvests, and an Iron Plantation Christmas.

All tours are Self-Guided, including those for School Groups. The Visitor Center features audio/visual programs on iron-making. Overall it's a great experience for people of any age. Allow about 1½ hours for a tour.

Hours: Open Wednesday thru Sunday from 9 - 5. Open daily during the summer (mid-June Labor Day). Ironmaking demonstrations take place in summer. Call for schedule. Closed New Years, M.L. King Day, Presidents Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
FREE. Call to confirm.
Call for Group info.
Group Reservations: At least 1 week in advance.
Lunch: Small picnic area the the site. Also, picnic in adjacent French Creek State Park - (610) 582-9680.
Handicapped Access: Limited, call with your needs.
Directions: I-76 West to exit 23. Rt. 100 North to Rt. 401 West. Go about 7 miles to Rt. 345 North and about 5 miles to Hopewell. 60 minutes northwest of Philadelphia.

Copyright © 1996-2014 by Patrick Tadeushuk. All Rights Reserved.