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DescriptionHopewell Furnace National Historic Site is about 5 miles south of Birdsboro on SR 345 and also is accessible via the Morgantown exit off the Pennsylvania Turnpike, using SRs 23 and 345. The 848-acre site is one of the finest examples of an early American 18th- and 19th-century iron-making community.
Englishman William Bird was prominent in the early iron industry in Pennsylvania. His son Mark built Hopewell Furnace on French Creek in 1771. Around the furnace developed a small industrial settlement where many of the employees lived in tenant houses. A resident manager lived on the site in the ironmaster's mansion.
The furnace cast pig iron, hollowware, stoves and many other items; during the Revolutionary War it produced cannon and shot. The furnace operated until 1883, when more advanced technology made it unprofitable.
Many of the structures have been restored and refurnished. The waterwheel, blast machinery, bridge house, cooling shed, barn, store, ironmaster's mansion and tenant houses can be seen. The ruin of an 1853 anthracite furnace has been uncovered and stabilized.
A visitor center features an audiovisual program and an exhibit area with original iron castings produced at Hopewell Furnace and tools associated with the operation of 18th- and 19th-century cold-blast charcoal furnaces. Allow 2 hours minimum. Daily 9-5, mid-May to early Oct. (also Memorial Day, July 4, Labor Day and Columbus Day); Wed.-Sun., 9-5, rest of year. Closed Jan. 1, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Presidents Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Admission free. Phone (610) 582-8773.