Monday, February 20, 2017

Hopewell Furnace

Posted by Stu On April - 27 - 2011

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Popularity: 15% [?]

Crystal Cave

Posted by Stu On January - 18 - 2011

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If you’re in eastern PA, you see quite a few signs on the highways for various caverns.  Over the summer, I decided to check some of  them out; it had been some time since I’d been underground anyway.  We went to both Crystal Cave and Lost River Caverns in the same day.

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Crystal Cave was set up like other caverns I’ve been to; you purchase tickets for the cave (the entrance is elsewhere) in a building that doubles as the gift shop.  From here, you walk uphill to the cave entrance; or if you prefer, you can stop at the restaurant and yet another gift shop farther in the back of the property.

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On top of the small hill, you are led into a small room before touring the cave.  In here, a short (under 10 minutes) video is played explaining the origins/discovery of Crystal Cave.  The group is then brought into the cave.  You’re inside for about half an hour.  Like nearly all cavern tours, there are random stops to point out formations (something I find annoying).  I don’t care what you think a formation looks like.  It’s not a rabbit.  It’s not a witch.  It’s a rock.

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Small pool in the cave.

It’s called Crystal Cave because there are literally crystals everywhere; small calcium crystals are found in the rock and look really cool in the cavern’s artificial lighting.  Unfortunately, digital cameras are terrible underground, so you really can’t see the effect.

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The only formation you’re allowed to touch.  It’s a “dead” formation.

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The only bat we saw.  They generally don’t go in the cave.

All in all, Crystal Cave is a decent family trip.  The actual time spent in the cave is somewhat short, however.  Pretty much your run-of-the-mill cavern – just more sparkly.  Check it out.

Popularity: 34% [?]

Reading Pagoda

Posted by Stu On January - 22 - 2007

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I first heard about this place quite a few years ago. Some lady (I think she had a thing for me) randomly IM’d me a few times and said I should come visit Reading and see the pagoda. It would take me 4-5 years to finally get out there.

Originally intended to be a resort, the pagoda is now simply a tourist attraction, one that is in dire need of some restoration. The steps outside of it are cracking, the paint is coming off – the place just looks neglected. There are some plans for restoring it and donations are being accepted.

I was hoping to get inside, but it was closed when we visited. Their hours are very random – 3 different websites gave me 3 different sets of hours. I called before the trip and was hung up on.

At night, the pagoda is clearly visible along the skyline because of the red lights on it. We could see it from our motel a few miles up the road in Temple.

Popularity: 8% [?]

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