At the end of the American Revolution, a new nation offered some, but not all, of its citizens unprecedented advantages both politically and economically. To build freedom, however, the citizens of Chester County fought to end slavery and accepted an unprecedented role for women. Rebecca Lukens took over her family's company in 1825 and saved it from bankruptcy to become Lukens Steel, the longest continuously operating firm in the American iron and steel industry. Beginning at the Lukens National Historic District, the Building Freedom Tour explores the evolution from the 18th and 19th century ironmasters to the steel masters of the 20th century.

Recreation Opportunities

Enjoy over 1700 acres of outdoor activities at Marsh Creek State Park, (such as swimming, kayaking, hiking and fishing.) Hibernia County Park offers over 1,000 acres of heritage trails, woodlands, fields and play areas. Chambers Lake at Hibernia offers kayaking, canoeing and fishing opportunities. The 5.2 mile Struble Trail connects Downingtown to Marsh Creek State Park and leads to the Dowlin Forge.

Heritage Stops to Shop and Eat

Heritage stops include the historical district and includes Downingtown, which consists of 20 historic structures and many shops and restaurants. The quaint village of Marshallton, was an important stop on the Strasburg Road and includes a Quaker meeting house and inn dating to 1765 and a variety of historic buildings. Other stops include Mortonville, where visitors can still see the former Mortonville Inn and enjoy picnic grounds along the Brandywine River. Ercildoun is a small village with a large history of involvement in the abolitionist movement and the Underground Railroad. It is also the village in which Rebecca Lukens, the nation's first female industrialist, is buried.

Building Freedom Tour

Suggested Start: National Iron & Steel Heritage Museum and Lukens National Historic District

Allow: 3 hours to tour, 1/2-1 day to explore

Iron & Steel Sites: National Iron & Steel Heritage Museum, Hibernia Mansion, Isabella Furnace, Dowlin Forge Park, and Wyebrook Farm Iron Tour

Heritage & Recreation: Struble Trail, Hibernia County Park, Springton Manor Farm, and Marsh Creek State Park

Historic Villages to Shop & Eat: Ercildoun Village, Downingtown Historic District and Marshallton Village