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
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.
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.
● (1) Coatesville and the National Iron & Steel Heritage Museum
Self-guided tours available, Guided tours available by appointment
Restrooms, handicap accessible
50 S. 1st 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.
(1a) Ercildoun Village
803 Doe Run Road, East Fallowfield Twp, PA
Rebecca Lukens burial site at Ercildoun Church of Christ Cemetery
756 Doe Run Road, East Fallowfield Twp, PA
www.livingplaces.com (search: Ercildoun)
The Village of Ercildoun, located at a prominent crossroads in East Fallowfield Township, was settled at the end of the 18th century and had its greatest period of development between 1811-1865. Ercildoun's most important historical significance is in the area of social/humanitarianism because of its level of involvement with the abolitionist movement. This movement was active on two levels — a political protest and participation in the Underground Railroad. Many of Chester County's Ironmasters also actively supported the abolitionist movement. Rebecca Lukens, the nation's first female industrialist, is buried in Ercildoun's Church of Christ Cemetery
(1b) Mortonville/Laurel Iron Works
2098 Strasburg Road, Coatesville, PA
www.livingplaces.com (search: Newlin)
Visit Mortonville and witness the ongoing revitalization of a village almost forgotten by time. Learn about the roles the Strasburg Road, the Brandywine River, and the Railroad all played in the development of this village. Visitors can still see the former Mortonville Inn and enjoy picnic grounds along the Brandywine River. The nearby hamlet of Laurel, on the boundary of East Fallowfield Township, was the location of the Laurel Iron Works, originally founded in 1793.
● (2) Hibernia County Park/Chambers Lake
1 Park Road, Coatesville, PA
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.
Hibernia Mansion & Heritage Trail
Sun 2-4 (Memorial Day-Labor Day) or by appointment
Group reservations available with 2 weeks advance notice
$3 admission, children under 12 free
Picnic area nearby
11 Lions Head Drive, Coatesville, PA
Hibernia Mansion, long the home of Ironmasters, reflects the lifestyle and social position of those made wealthy by Pennsylvania's iron industry. Gracious living and stylish entertainment occupied those fortunate enough to own iron furnace or forges. In true 19th century style, mansions existed side by side with the iron works. The quiet beauty of the surrounding Hibernia County Park today belies the hustle and smoke of earlier times. Visitors can explore the evolution of the 19th century iron plantation and the legacies of the mansion builders and ironmaster through a self-guided Walking Tour of Hibernia's Historic Ruins, guided mansion tours and special events.
(2a) Hibernia United Methodist Church
220 Hibernia Rd Coatesville, PA 19320-1381 (across the road from current church)
The original Hibernia Methodist Episcopal Church, founded in 1841 by workers from the Hibernia Iron Works, was formerly located in what is now Hibernia County Park. The workers built the church on land donated by Charles Brooks, the ironmaster at the time. Buried at the cemetery are Charles Brooke, Jane Bard Brooke (his wife), and their children, along with a number of early settlers in the area.
● (3) Langoma Mansion
St. Mary of Providence Center, 227 Isabella Road, Elverson, PA 19520
(4) Springton Manor Farm
860 Springton Road, Glenmoore, PA 19343
(5) Marsh Creek State Park
675 Park Road, Downingtown, PA 19335
Marsh Creek State Park offers a plethora of recreational opportunities: swimming, boating, hiking, sailing, birding, sledding, and ice sports.
● (6) Dowlin (Mary Ann) Forge on the Struble Trail
1599 Dowlin Forge Road, Downingtown, PA 19335
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.
(7) Downingtown Historic District
107 East Lancaster Avenue, Downingtown, PA 19335
Downingtown's origins are of a small village located midway between Philadelphia and Lancaster. The village was first known as Milltown since it was the location of the last mills on the edge of the unsettled western frontier. Thomas Moore erected a 'water corn mill' in 1716 and Roger Hunt established a gristmill in 1739. The deteriorated structure of the Roger Hunt mill and millrace still survives in Downingtown, and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.
(7a) Struble Trail
80 Norwood Road, Downingtown, PA 19335
The Struble Trail features paved surfaces which are ideal for walking, jogging or biking.
(8) Marshallton Village
1316 W. Strasburg Road, West Chester, PA 19382
www.livingplaces.com (search: Marshallton Historic)
Marshallton Village was an important stop on the Strasburg Road, a free freight road from Lancaster to Philadelphia. Among the outstanding features of the village is a Quaker Meeting dating to 1722 (present building is 1765), a cradle factory, which made grain cradles and scythes, a blacksmith shop, pump maker, cigar factory, tinsmith shop, clothing store, bakery, the 1829 Methodist Church, and a nearby hotel built in 1765. For an interesting side trip, follow Route 162 to Stargazer Road to visit the Stargazer's Stone, which was the basis for the Mason Dixon Line.
In 1764, English astronomers Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon erected this stone 31 miles directly west of an observation tower they built in Philadelphia. Their task was to mark the border between the colonies of Pennsylvania and Maryland. The famous Mason-Dixon Line became known as the boundary dividing free states from slave states prior to the Civil War.