Suggested Start: National Iron & Steel Heritage Museum and Lukens National Historic District
Allow: 14 hours to tour, 3 days to explore
Recreation: Hibernia Park, Hopewell Furnace, Warwick Park, and Valley Forge Park
Places to Eat: Coatesville, Wyebrook, Pottstown, Phoenixville, and Downingtown
For more than a century, Pennsylvania was the iron making center of America. The state led the nation in iron production, largely due to its natural resources: abundant iron ore deposits, vast forests that provided charcoal, numerous coal beds for additional fuel, limestone deposits and rivers for water power. Pennsylvania's iron and steel history began in 1716 and for the next century, the state's iron industry experienced a time of rapid expansion and a rising demand for iron products. The industry grew until the American colonies became one of the world's largest iron producers.
By the 1800s, the iron industry was a major part of the Pennsylvania economy. The nineteenth century witnessed crucial technological changes, which transformed the industry, and would lead to the United States becoming one of the world's top steel producers. Coal and coke replaced charcoal as a source of fuel, which made iron making a more efficient process and increased both production and quality. In the 1870s, steel was massed-produced in Pennsylvania. The new steel industry created a modern industrial society and led many to consider Pennsylvania as the "steel capitol of the world," a title the state would hold for almost a century.
For more than two centuries, Pennsylvania led America's and the world's iron and steel industries. Today, Pennsylvanian steel companies continue to have a positive impact on the state, country, and world economies and steel industries.
★ (Building Freedom Tour 1) Coatesville and the National Iron & Steel Heritage Museum
Self-guided tours available, Guided tours available by appointment
Restrooms, handicap accessible
50 South First Avenue, Coatesville, PA 19320
The Lukens National Historic District illustrates the maturation of Pennsylvania's iron and steel industries. Far from the rural furnaces of Hopewell or Joanna, Lukens represents a post industrial revolution business. Look closely, however, and the same elements of management, worker, community, and trust exist here in the same way they did at earlier sites.
Visit Terracina, the Lukens Executive Office Building. See Brandywine Mansion, home to Rebecca Lukens, one of the nation's first female industrial leaders.
★ (Building Freedom Tour 2) Hibernia County Park/Chambers Lake
Hibernia County Park
In addition to other recreational activities, Hibernia County Park offers hiking and walking trails. From Memorial Day to Labor Day walking tours explore the world of the ironmasters who lived at Hibernia.
Chambers Lake is a 90-acre water supply reservoir and regional flood control facility. In 1994, the lake was formed by the construction of Hibernia Dam on Birch Run to provide a supplemental source of local drinking water, and needed flood control for the Brandywine Creek watershed. The lake also offers excellent recreational opportunities, especially fishing, boating, hiking and bird watching.
★ (Building Freedom Tour 3) Wyebrook Farm Iron Tour
150 Wyebrook Road, Honeybrook
★ (Forging Freedom Tour 3) Joanna Furnace
Furnace Operation Days are the 3rd Saturday of every month
Site manager on-site daily from 9-3 and visitors are welcome
Guided tours available by appointment
$4 Adults, $2 Students
1250 Furnace Road, Geigertown, PA, 19523
Visit Joanna's new Cast House and visualize the smoke, dust, and motion of an iron furnace in operation. On this site from 1791 until 1898 workers produced pig iron and iron products utilizing Pennsylvania's magnificent natural resources. In peacetime and during wartime, the furnace sought to supply the needs of a growing nation.
Today the site welcomes visitors to tour the original buildings or participate in a rich schedule of special events.
★ (Forging Freedom Tour 1) Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site
Grounds and restrooms open daily 9 AM - 5 PM (closed some federal holidays)
Visitor Center and Historic Buildings open Wed - Sun 9 AM to 5 PM
No entrance fee
2 Mark Bird Lane, Elverson, PA 19520
This rural iron furnace experienced every social and political event of the 19th century and contributed to the quest for equal opportunity for African-Americans and women.
From providing war materials to the American Revolution and the Civil War to transforming women's lives, the furnace products impacted life in the United States and beyond.
Tour the historic village using the Voices of Hopewell to meet the original residents. Living History interpreters on site during the summer. Great recreation stop for all seasons.
★ (Forging Freedom Tour 6) Warwick County Park & Iron Tour
Pavilions available for rental
Open 8am to Sunset Daily
382 County Park Road, Pottstown, PA 19465
Warwick County Park offers 538 acres of recreational and nature study opportunities for visitors of all ages. Its significant history as a source of charcoal for the neighboring iron furnaces should not be overlooked. The .83 miles Iron Heritage Loop Trail guides visitors to an understanding of the annual cycle of charcoal making.
★ (Forging Freedom Tour 11) Pine Forge Historical Society
Pine Forge Historic Site
Pine Forge Road, Pine Forge
★ (Powering Freedom Tour 7a) Pottsgrove Manor
Tue-Sat 10-4, Sun 1-4
$2 suggested donation
Guided tours last about 45 minutes
100 West King Street, Pottstown, PA 19464
Pottsgrove Manor, constructed in the early 1750's, illustrates the wealth accumulated by entrepreneurs involved with the early Pennsylvania iron industry. Owner John Potts became the foremost ironmaster in Pennsylvania. At various times John Potts owned or invested in Colebrookdale Furnace, Pine Forge, Warwick Furnace, and Mount Joy Forge (Valley Forge).
The Georgian mansion illustrates the privileged lives of the wealthy in colonial and early federal Pennsylvania.
★ (Forging Freedom Tour 8) Coventryville
Heritage Stop at the intersection of Route 23 and Coventryville Road
www.livingplaces.com (search: Coventryville)
Located at the junction of the north and south branches of French Creek, Coventry was the first forge in Chester County and enjoyed the areas rich deposits of iron and limestone. Iron making continued at the site through the 19th century.
The village today consists of structures dating from the early 18th century through the middle of the 19th including workers' housing, the Inn, the ironmaster's house (Coventry Hall) and the mid 19th century Methodist church. The Coventryville Historic District remains an intact concentration of original 18th and 19th century structures. The community was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. From Conventryville, visitors have the chance to take a fun side trip to the charming historical village of Pughtown, located at Route 100 and Pughtown Road where the beautiful estate of Welkinweir is located nearby on Prizer Road.
★ (Powering Freedom Tour 2) Schuylkill River Heritage Center
Fri-Sun 11-3 and 1st Friday of every month 5:30-7:30
2 North Main Street, Phoenixville, PA 19460
The Schuylkill River Heritage Center is a gateway to both iron and steel country and the history of the Schuylkill River. Located in the Phoenixville Foundry, it provides information about the important resources that the Schuylkill River supplied to the region, and highlights the connections between the river and the growing number of industries that sprang up on its banks.
Videos, historic artifacts and murals all illuminate the industrial history of the former Phoenix Iron and Steel Company and the Schuylkill River. Visitors can also enjoy the Sculpture garden near the entrance to the foundry.
★ (Powering Freedom Tour 1) Valley Forge National Historical Park
Grounds open daily, year-round 7am-dark
Visitor Center 9 AM-5 PM daily (closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day)
Check for Washington's Headquarters
No entrance fee
1400 North Outer Line Drive, King of Prussia, PA 19406
The peaceful fields and farmhouses that mark Valley Forge today pay homage to the soldiers of George Washington's army who, despite the predictions of the British war office, stayed together during the winter of 1777-1778 and emerged from the ordeal as a well trained and battle-ready fighting force. Before the Continental Army arrived, however, Valley Forge lived up to its name with two iron forges running along the Valley Creek. Enjoy the park on your own on foot, by bike, or automobile. Ranger-led tours and trolley tours offer other options. Whatever the means of transportation, the cell phone tour enriches the experience.
★ (Building Freedom Tour 6) Dowlin (Mary Ann) Forge on the Struble Trail
Shelmire Road near its intersection with Welsh Ayres Way, Downingtown, PA
www.livingplaces.com (search: Dowlin)
Founded as Mary Ann Forge along the Brandywine Creek in Uwchlan Township, the site became Dowlin Forge when John Dowlin purchased the land in 1801. The forge prospered through the 19th century and a small industrial area grew up around it. Today visitors can follow the industrial history of the site on trails bordering Shamona Creek.