The Iron Ore Mines of Hopewell Furnace

Artist conception of iron miners digging ore at a mine.
Iron miners digging ore from one of the mines that supplied Hopewell Furnace.

NPS Illustration.

There are three mines located near Hopewell Furnace that the furnace depended upon for its supply of iron ore. The mines are located on three different ore veins a few miles from the furnace. In the beginning all of the mines were open pit processes. As mining technology advanced some of the mines developed shaft operations. Without the mines and the miners to supply good quality iron ore, Hopewell Furnace would not have survived. Some of Hopewell's mines contained ore that was 40% to 50% iron, though the grade of iron ore often decreased as mining progressed over the years.

Old Hopewell Mine or Birdtown Mine is located in Warwick Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania. The mine is located in a geologic area known as the Stockton Formation that was formed during the Triassic Era, 248 million years ago. Today the mine and surrounding lands are owned by the Pennsylvania State Game Commission. Hopewell Mine is several hundred feet long and 75-100 feet deep. There were a total of five buildings, most likely tenant houses, located near the mine. This mine was opened in 1770 under the direction of Mark Bird. Throughout the time the mine was in operation it took from three to seven men to operate it. This handful of men was all that was needed to supply Hopewell Furnace with all the ore it needed to run.

In 1773 Mark Bird bought 40 acres of land known as the Jones Good Luck Mine tract in Caernarvon Township, Berks County, Pennsylvania. Jones Good Luck Mine along with Hopewell Mine were the two most important mines for the furnace. They supplied the furnace with the ore it needed to run. The mine is 400 feet wide and about 200 feet deep. Today the mine is located on private property and filled with water. The miners working at Jones Good Luck Mine lived near the mine in houses rented by the furnace for them. Jones Good Luck Mine was in operation for more than 100 years until it was shut down in the early 1900s.

The Warwick Mine is located in Warwick Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania. It was the last major mine to be acquired by the owners of Hopewell Furnace. The mine is now located on State Game Lands #43. This mine started as an open pit and as time went on, eventually became a shaft mine. There were a total of three to four shafts at Warwick Mine ranging in size from over 20 feet in diameter to 60 feet deep. The grey magnetic and brown hematite rock located within the mine yielded about 45% to 50% iron. Warwick Mine was in operation for over 120 years during which time it supplied iron to Hopewell and other local furnaces.

Last updated: February 26, 2015

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