Charcoal Pit/Collier Hut

Pit with charcoal and wood scattered around the area with a hut made of earth and wood built in background.
When Hopewell Furnace was in blast, colliers made and transported charcoal from a wide area around Hopewell Furnace, often many miles away. Before the widespread use of fossil fuels, charcoal provided the intense heat needed for making and working with iron and steel. Throughout the surrounding forest, from May through November, men lived and worked in the woods making charcoal for Hopewell Furnace. These workers were called colliers. With no nearby dwellings to offer protection from the outdoor elements, these workers built temporary shelters to live in while they worked their trade in the forest.

A Master Collier and two or three helpers would share one hut. Their huts were always conical in shape, upright poles covered with leaves and then dirt making them watertight. A door just large enough for one man to pass faced the charcoal pit so the colliers could watch it from inside. A small wood stove or stone fireplace and rough log bunks might be added for convenience and comfort.

Last updated: May 5, 2022

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