Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site consists of a restored town from the 18th and 19th centuries, as well as ruins of a blast furnace. Iron was produced here from 1771 until 1883. The work was somewhat dangerous, but the workers generally made decent money and lived good lives. This, unfortunately, was not the trend with other mining and furnace sites, where workers often worked in poor conditions with very little pay.
The history of Hopewell Furnace is rather tame. A park worker told us nothing significant happened here that anyone knows of, nor did anyone famous ever set foot here. It’s not all that different from other restored towns I’ve been to; it reminded me quite a bit of Allaire and Batsto. So why make it a national historic site? The guide said it’s more of a tribute to the common working man of the time. A place doesn’t need a celebrity or some big historical event to have significance.
Several of the buildings are still standing and are in very good shape, and most are filled with relics or replicas from the time. The water wheel still turns. Some farm animals roam the grounds. During our visit, a reenactment of using the furnace was taking place.