Continuing on our quest to catch up on all the posts we’ve missed in the past two months, we bring you next back to an unplanned stop on our trip to Atlantic City in March: a visit to a National Historic Site!
It’s no secret that we love to travel, and certainly no secret that we’re big fans of making – and checking things off of – lists. The Passport to Your National Parks program seems almost like it was made for us. It’s a little, travel-friendly book that lists every National Park, Historic Site, Battlefield, and Monument in the country. Like a regular passport, there are spots for cancellation stamps, which you can get at the visitor centers for each of the sites. Our goal this year is to add two new stamps to the book, and the first opportunity came on a beautifully sunny, yet snowy, day in March.
Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site is located a little ways off the highway, just about 50 miles before you hit Philly driving east on the Turnpike. We were en route to Atlantic City when I saw the signs for Hopewell Furnace, and since we had some free time (and my Passport book, which I always travel with), we took a short detour.
Hopewell Furnace was an ‘iron plantation’ that operated from the late 1700s until the late 1800s. Even early in its existence, it was the second-largest producer of iron in the state. Hopewell Furnace was an important producer of supplies during the American Revolution.
One of Hopewell’s major industries was stove-making. Mark Bird, ironmaster and founder of Hopewell Furnace, designed stoves that were both fashionable and functional, making home heating much safer than with traditional fireplaces.
Okay. Maybe not the vultures. Those were actually kind of REALLY creepy.
The water wheel was gigantic – 22 feet in diameter! The water wheel was the power source that allowed the furnace to be heated to over 2800 degrees Fahrenheit. (Seriously, I am done complaining about Pittsburgh’s humidity in August.)
Also in the furnace room was this random shelf of weights. And a cart. And a really fabulous opportunity for me to reenact music montages from Rocky IV.
Although we’d never really heard of Hopewell Furnace before passing the signs on the Turnpike, we really had a great time exploring the site. The staff was so friendly and informative, and it was so interesting to be able to step back into time with this perfectly-preserved industrial village. If you find yourself traveling in the area, be sure to check it out! You can see the sights easily in less than 2 hours and get your Passport stamped!