Saturday, January 25, 2020

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.


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.




















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Duffy’s Cut

Posted by Stu On June - 18 - 2009

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In the summer of 1832, Philip Duffy, a railroad contractor, hired 57 Irish immigrants on the docks of Philadelphia.  They were to fill in a ravine near present-day Malvern so rails for a new track could be laid.  They began their task, but only 6 weeks later all 57 were dead.  History blames a cholera outbreak, but cholera generally only has a 50% death rate.  Local legend claims that some, if not all, were murdered.  The locals at the time had a high prejudice of Catholicism and of immigrants.

Whatever happened to them, they were quickly buried in a shallow ditch with no ceremony.  In the 1870’s, a small fence was set up around what people thought was the mass grave site; it turned out to be the wrong spot.  By the 1910’s, it was discovered that at least part of the grave was now under the tracks; some time prior, the railroad had the track reset.  Papers reporting the deaths of the workers were found in the 1970’s, hidden in a vault.  The events at Duffy’s Cut were almost completely lost to history.  The area didn’t even get a historical marker until 2004.

The marker is at the intersection of King and Sugartown.  A few blocks away is the mass grave, which is currently being examined by archaeologists.


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