Both literally and figuratively the ironmasters of this region supported their emerging nation by forging freedom. Early ironmasters resented British laws that required them to ship pig iron to England and then buy back the finished product. When war came to North America in 1775, the iron industry forged freedom by supplying munitions to Washington's beleaguered army. The Forging Freedom Tour explores this theme beginning at Hopewell Furnace, which provided war materials for the American Revolution and the Civil War, and experienced every social and political event of the 19th century. It tours neighboring furnaces, critical to the war effort and growth of the new country.

Recreation Opportunities

1000's of acres of land are available for swimming, hiking, fishing and more at French Creek State Park and the beautiful grounds of the 197 acre Welkinweir estate, a conservation trust with an arboretum, gardens and the historic mansion house. Warwick County Park offers an additional 538 acres of recreational opportunities, including the .83 mile Iron Heritage Loop Trail guiding visitors through the annual cycle of charcoal making. The park is a trailhead for the 140 mile Horse-Shoe Trail. River Front Park is home to the headquarters of the Schuylkill River National Heritage Area and one of the main Schuylkill River trailheads.

Heritage Stops to Shop and Eat

Morgantown was originally settled around 1765 and historic Elverson Borough traces its development from its 18th century origins. The tour travels to the charming village of Coventryville with structures dating from the early 18th and 19th centuries, including workers housing, an Inn and the ironmaster's house (Coventry Hall.) St. Peter's Village was once an important granite quarry site and now a restored village featuring unique shops, a fabulous bakery and the Inn at St. Peter's. Additional heritage sites are Pottstown, a community with an extensive history in the iron and steel industries, and Birdsboro, once the home of the Birdsboro Steel Company and a site where visitors can still find echoes of the industrial past as they explore this historic community.

Forging Freedom Tour

Suggested Start: Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site Visitor's Center

Allow: 7 hours to tour; two days to explore

Iron & Steel Sites: Joanna Furnace, Warwick County Park, Coventryville, Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site, and Pine Forge

Heritage & Recreation: French Creek State Park, Coventry Woods Preserve, Welkinweir, Warwick County Park, Monocacy Hill Recreation Area, and Crow's Nest Preserve

Historic Villages to Shop & Eat: Elverson, Douglassville, Coventryville, Birdsboro, and St. Peter's Village