As a complex iron-making community that functioned for more than a century, producing iron and iron products for a growing America, Hopewell Furnace illustrates America’s industrial evolution as well as industry’s influence upon the development of American Society.
The overarching theme addresses the broad social, industrial and technological context of the time that Hopewell Furnace operated. It traces the evolution of the iron-making industry in America, the innovations in technology and production methods, and changes in the workplace and its impact on the American family. It interprets the raw materials needed for iron production and, by explaining the extractive nature of iron making, discusses the relationship between geography and furnace location at the time Hopewell was founded and how it has subsequently changed. The theme also describes the integration of this furnace with other iron operations and its integration with agriculture as part of the self-sufficient iron plantation.
Primary Theme I. Business of Hopewell
Hopewell Furnace’s survival depended upon economic success, and the history of Hopewell’s success and failure as a business provides a window into the world of American business, labor and commerce, as it changes from small-scale colonial business to large-scale, capital intensive modern industry.
Primary Theme II. Living at Hopewell
The diverse community that coexisted with and supported the operation of Hopewell Furnace offers insight into life in a rural, industrial American community.
Primary Theme III. Environment at Hopewell
Hopewell Furnace’s natural environment had a considerable impact on the industrial and agricultural character of the community, which in turn used and altered Nature in both dramatic and subtle ways.
Secondary Theme - Conservation at Hopewell
The current appearance of Hopewell and its immediate environment, combined with archeological and documentary evidence, reflect the history of preservation of cultural resources and the conservation of natural resources not only at Hopewell but also throughout the United States.
Did You Know?
Hardwood trees produced the highest quality and quantity of charcoal to fuel early ironworks. Chestnut was the principal tree of the forest surrounding Hopewell Furnace, and along with Oak, Hickory, Maple and Walnut trees, were harvested by the thousands each year to fuel the furnace.