Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site | PARK AT A GLANCE

Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site

Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site

PARK OVERVIEW

In an effort to get men back to work after the Great Depression of 1929, the Roosevelt Administration created the Federal Emergency Administration of Public Works. From this came the Land Program Committee of the Federal Emergency Relief Administration that was tasked with reutilizing land that was no longer suitable for industry or agriculture due to excessive exploitation of resources. The land surrounding Hopewell Furnace in Elverson, Pennsylvania, an iron furnace that operated from 1771 until 1883, had been mined and the forests clear cut, and thus it was considered submarginal land. One use for such land was to turn it into a recreational park called a Recreational Demonstration Area (RDA). In 1933, the federal government purchased over 4,200 acres from the Hopewell Furnace land owners, the Brooke Family, for the creation of the French Creek RDA. All RDAs were under the management of the National Park Service.

Realizing that the buildings of Hopewell Furnace were still in salvageable condition and that the village was a good representation of an American furnace community, the National Park Service decided to develop the complex separately from the rest of the RDA and create a historical park. Because there was an interest in historic villages at the time (Colonial Williamsburg opened in 1932), when the new park was authorized by the Department of the Interior on August 3, 1938, it was called Hopewell Village National Historic Site. Because Hopewell Furnace was actually an industrial complex and not an official village or town, the name was changed to Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site in 1985. The rest of the RDA was given to the state of Pennsylvania in 1946. This land became French Creek State Park.

Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site

Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site

Today Hopewell Furnace is open for self-exploration. A three-quarter-mile walking path leads around the site, and most buildings are open. Before heading out to explore, be sure to stop at the Visitor Center and watch the film about Hopewell Furnace and peruse the exhibits in a small museum that covers various topics pertaining to the Pennsylvania iron industry and the history of the furnace. For those interested in hiking, there are only a few trails exclusively within the boundary of Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site, but there are plenty of trails in the adjacent French Creek State Park.

Park Rangers and volunteers give daily lectures and conduct various craft demonstrations from spring through fall at Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site. The most popular demonstration, the Hands-on Molding and Casting Program, is held whenever the park is open from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Other activities include holiday celebrations, aluminum casting, living history weekends, apple picking, and blacksmithing, sheep sheering, and charcoal making demonstrations.

OPERATING HOURS

The Visitor Center and buildings at Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site are open year-round on Wednesdays through Sundays from 9 AM to 5 PM, except when closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. When the park is closed, the trails are still open. However, the Hopewell Furnace parking lot is gated, so you must start your hike from French Creek State Park. Restrooms at the Visitor Center remain open from 9 AM to 3 PM for any hikers passing through the park.

Keep in mind that times can always change, so be sure to get the latest schedule on the National Park Service’s official Operating Hours and Seasons web page for the park.

ENTRANCE FEES

There is no entrance fee or fee for activities at Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site.

SCHEDULING YOUR TIME

Visitor Center
allow 30 to 60 minutes

Historical Furnace Village
allow at least 1 hour, and more time for demonstrations and other activates

Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site

Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site

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Last updated on June 11, 2024
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