Hopewell Furnace Iron Plantation

This is a view of the center of the “iron plantation” at Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site in Chester County Pennsylvania.  The building in the center is the Iron Masters Mansion, with the company store on the left and stables on the right.  The furnace produced cast iron from iron deposits, limestone and charcoal continuously from 1771-1883.  Life was hard on the plantation.  The furnace which burned charcoal was stoked 24 hours a day, 7 days a week all year long.  The abundance of natural resources (surface iron deposits, timber and limestone) in Chester County made Hopewell an ideal location.  The furnace used forced air generated by a water wheel to achieve the necessary temperatures for smelting.  The Iron Plantations employed a small army of multiple disciplines including miners, lumber jacks,  wagon hauling, iron craftsmen, carpenters and blacksmiths.  Hopewell Furnace is a major historical site that marks the beginning of the American Industrial Revolution.


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