Frequently Asked Questions
Hopewell Furnace is an early American industrial community that operated from 1771 to 1883. The cold-blast iron furnace and accompanying community has been restored to the way it looked during the 1830s and 1840s, when the furnace was at its height of activity.
Like the better known agricultural plantations in the American south, these early industrial enterprises were typically isolated, largely self-sufficient communities centered around the production of iron as its saleable product. Furnace owners built dwellings, stores and other structures not normally required of a business, to provide for their workers' daily needs. Though built on different social and economic foundations from their southern counterparts, there were parallels in size, rural setting and concentration on one product.
The Hopewell Furnace property was purchased by the federal government on 1935 to become part of a "Recreation Demonstration Area" developed by the Work Projects Administration (WPA). Some restoration and development work was performed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) between 1935 and 1942. On August 3, 1938, a "core" historic area of the property was designated a National Historic Site. The remainder of the property was transferred to the State of Pennsylvania in 1946 and today makes up most of neighboring French Creek State Park.
One way to reach us from Valley Forge Park is to take PA Route 422 West to the intersection of PA Route 82. Take Route 82 South through the town of Birdsboro where it is joined by PA Route 345. Take Route 345 South until you reach the park entrance. An alternative way is to take PA Route 23 West from Valley Forge Park through the towns of Valley Forge and Phoenixville. Continue on Route 23 West (it forks from the main roadway just west of Phoenixville) until you reach the intersection of PA Route 345. Turn onto Route 345 North and continue on it until you reach the park entrance. Travel time using either route is approximately 45 minutes.
The nearest restaurants and gas stations can be found in the towns of Birdsboro (5 miles north of the park on PA Route 345) and Elverson (6 miles Southwest of the park on PA Route 23). There are no restaurants or gas stations in the immediate vicinity of the park. Snacks, soft drinks and water can be purchased at the park's visitor center.
The trees that surround much of the parking area are apple trees. They represent a historic apple orchard that was known to have existed at the furnace as early as the 1780s. Today's trees include over 30 varieties of apples, many of them old, historic varieties no longer found in modern orchards. During September and October visitors are allowed to pick apples from these trees for a set cost per pound.
The pool is in neighboring French Creek State Park. It is open to the public during summer months and is run by a concessionaire for the State of Pennsylvania. It is often referred to as the "Hopewell" pool because it is located beside Hopewell Lake, which borders Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site. To reach the pool one can take PA Route 345 to an entrance for French Creek State Park and follow Park Road to the Hopewell Lake area. For further information call the pool at: 610-582-1194 or French Creek State Park at:610-582-9680.
Did You Know?
Iron, like that made at Hopewell Furnace, was the principal metal for use in most applications during the 18th and most of the 19th centuries. Only after the development of large scale production of steel through the Bessemer process did steel overtake iron as the common metal in most products.