Special mandates affecting management of the park have been undertaken with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, utility companies neighboring farmers and the former congregation of Bethesda Church.
In 1946 (approved by the President on December 18, 1946 and accepted by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on March 31, 19476), the United States transferred 5,350 acres of the French Creek Recreation Demonstration Area to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. In this Deed to Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the federal government reserved two rights: the right for the State to provide sufficient wateris allowed to have access to water for interpretive usesfilling a mill race and operating a water wheel and rights to certain minerals should they be found within the park land transferred to the Commonwealth.
“Subject to all easements, rights-of-way, licenses, leases, and outstanding interests in, upon, across or through said property which have heretofore been granted or reserved by the United States of America or its predecessors in title. Reserving, however, unto the United States, the right to conduct from and upon the lands hereby conveyed, sufficient water from streams and reservoirs on the arid lands to fill any mill race now existing or restored or which may hereafter be reconstructed and restored for the purpose of operating a mill within the Hopewell Village National Historic Site.
There are reserved to the United States any uranium, thorium or other materials in the lands hereby conveyed which are or may be determined to be peculiarly essential to the production of fissionable materials, whether or not of commercial value, together with the right through its authorized agents at any time to enter upon the lands and prospect for, mine, and remove the same.”
When established by the Roosevelt Administration, pole agreements existed on lands that became Hopewell Village National Historic Site. The most recent utility company agreements in park records are described as special use agreements. Park records notate that two 10-year agreements were negotiated in 1973 with a utility company for 3,729 feet and for 5,499 feet, one 20-year agreement was negotiated with Metropolitan Edison Company in 1967 for 5,009 feet, and one 20-year agreement was negotiated in 1970 with an unidentified utility company for 344 feet. An additional agreement was negotiated with Bell Telephone that has subsequently been transferred to D&E. Since these agreements appear to be beyond the terms identified in the original agreements, these utility companies occupy lands within the boundaries of the park for which there is no agreement. The NPS is initiating a review of this situation to negotiate new agreements that will protect park resources and reflect current conditions.
Special use permits have been granted to farmers to hay ten fields. The permit fee is paid for in hay or by mowing other fields. The number and location of fields has varied over the past decade from as few as seven fields to as many as twelve.
An agreement was made between the former Bethesda Church congregation and the NPS for burial rights in the Bethesda Church Cemetery. The last known person with rights to be buried in Bethesda Cemetery, Mrs. Mary BusenkellBushenkill, was interred in the 1990s. No other congregants are known who have the right for future burial within the cemetery.
Interpretive themes contain ideas, concepts and stories that directly arise from the park’s purpose and significance, creates a park identity, and areis central to the visitor experience. The interpretive themes define concepts that every visitor should have the opportunity to learn. They also provide the framework for the park’s interpretation and educational programs, influence the visitor experience, and provide direction for planners and designers of the park’s exhibits, publications, and audiovisual programs. Subsequent interpretive planning will further refine and elaborate on these themes. Two themes have been identified for Hopewell Furnace NHS.
The history of Hopewell isn intrinsically linked to the region’s natural resources. The use of the land over time reflects society’s changing viewssions and values from resource extraction and agriculture to conservation and enlightened stewardship.
William Penn marketed his new colony not only to those seeking religious freedom, but also to those in search of economic advantage. The new lands of Pennsylvania offered a wealth of natural resources and opportunity to settlers. In the early 18th century William and Mark Bird recognized the truth of the earlier advertisements and sought to increase their financial position by exploiting the lands and natural resources along what was then the Pennsylvania frontier. Iron ore, wood, limestone, and running water made Hopewell an ideal location for an iron furnace. For the next 100 years, the Bird and Brooke families used the resources of their environment to produce marketable iron products.
After the demise of the iron furnace, the land was used as afor dairy farming and a country home for the next 50 years. However, the wetness of many bottom fields, along with the limited productivity of the soils and timber available for harvesting made farming marginally profitable.
In response to the Great Depression of the 1930s, the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration developed the recreation demonstration area (RDA) program to create jobs for untrained men, in a time of high unemployment that would develop recreation opportunities for nearby urban dwellers. The program looked for big tracts of submarginal land, usually despoiled by industrial use, with a single owner, that were close to a major urban area. They identified the former Hopewell Furnace lands, owned by a member of the Brooke family and conveniently located to Philadelphia, Reading, and Harrisburg, as an ideal candidate. The French Creek RDA was established in 1935, with two Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camps to construct infrastructure and recreation facilities. Within a year, Within a year, thethe remains of an industrial village were discovered and three years later a national historic sitepark was established to preserve Hopewell’s lands and structures including the remains of the furnace, blacksmith shop, and ironmaster’s house. This is the second National Historic Site authorized in the history of the National Park System with Salem Maritime in Salem, Massachusetts, being the first.
The last 70 years of NPS management have been focused on preserving the cultural resources, building a modern park operation, and reconstructing the historic village. At the start of the 21st century, the NPS is looking at the lands of Hopewell Furnace in the context of the larger Hopewell Big Woods’s area and interested in combining the NPS preservation view and the earlier CCC recreation focus. The NPS seeks to preserve the historic village and to remember the iron plantation community that flourished here, while at the same time using the surrounding acres for appropriate recreation and to continue the tradition of the CCC with education and work projects.
The communities that lived and worked at Hopewell included people from all walks of life. Their lives and work, from the period of iron making to the modern conservation era, were influenced by Hopewell’s business practices and changing local and national economic conditions.
Built by slaves, indentured servants and wage earners, Hopewell Furnace attracted individuals who lived and worked in furnace buildings, on local farms, and in the surrounding communities like Warwick Village and Six Penny Creek. Started as a small furnace run by the owner, financed by one or two individuals and producing locally consumed products not only for local consumption, but also for the Continental Government, Hopewell Furnace grew to be a part of a larger and more complex investment and management portfolio of industrial activities with regional, national and international markets. Along with these changes in production and finance, came commensurate changes in business practices, workplace organization and community life. Hopewell represents some of the social, economic and workplace transformations that our country went through as it evolved from a rural, agrarian nation to a more urban industrial one.
“In the era of small farms, wooden implements, and workbench manufacturing, the iron [industry] forged the guidelines for the factory system of the future: massive capital investment; detailed cost accounting; development of far-off markets; division of labor by precise job definition; invention and crafting of machinery; standardization of product; [and] personnel management of a complex order.” (Klein and Higgenboom, A History of Pennsylvania. 1980)
The welfare of the workers - iron masters, molders, miners, teamsters, farmers and woodsmen alike - their families and this iron community depended on the success of Hopewell’s owners and the economic and political climate of the country. Initially producing hollow ware for frontier life, the patriotic leanings of Mark Bird led to ordinance contracts with the Colonial NavyArmy during the American Revolution. Due to financial difficulties, Mark Bird closed his inability to collect payment from the fledgling American government and other poor investments, Hopewell Furnace and sold it. During the late 18th century and early part of the 19th century, it was bought and sold by a number of owners. It was not financially successful until 1820 was closed. Despite the national depression following the War of 1812, new owners, investment in new technology and improved roads led to reopening of the furnace by 1815. The as the first profitable blasts since the end of the 18th century occurred around 1820 1820. and Afterafter settlement of water rights litigation in the early 1820s and increasing the furnace capacity in the late 1820s, the furnace entered its the most profitable period of operation – the Golden Age of Hopewell.
The Pennsylvania legislature authorized companies to use coke and anthracite coal to fuel iron furnaces, in the late 1830s, which ushered in a new era for the iron industry in America. Within 15 years, there were as many anthracite-fueled furnaces as charcoal-fueled furnaces in Pennsylvania. Hopewell partnersNew owners experimented with anthracite coal-fueled production at Hopewell, but the costs of production and transportation convinced them to revert to production of charcoal-fueled production pig iron. Despite additional investment in buildings and production technology, the furnace began to decline in the early 1870s and closed in 1883.for good ten years later.
The rise of a vertically integrated iron industry, with large, centralized manufacturing plants using hot blast furnaces with Appalachian coal and moved by an increasingly sophisticated canal and railroad system, contributed to the demise of the small, rural, dispersed, charcoal-fueled iron furnaces like Hopewell. Interestingly, Hopewell’s early business practices foreshadowed the emergence of late 19th and early 20th century vertically integrated, conglomerates in the American iron industry.
Housing for Hopewell’s workers varied as the type of workers and the fortunes of the furnace changed. When originally purchased by Mark Bird, employees were housed in buildings already on the property – houses, cast shed and farm buildings. Gradually they moved out into other domestic buildings on the property or rented rooms on neighboring farms and in local towns. At the height of the furnace’s operation, 14 company-owned houses and a number of temporary shelters and log houses had been constructed near the furnace, a large number of collier’s huts existed throughout the woods, and the African American settlement along Six Penny Creek had begun. With the closing of the furnace and transition to farming, the industrial buildings deteriorated. Within 20 years after the last blast, the furnace complex was gone or in poor repair, the trade shops were on the verge of collapse, the temporary houses dismantled, and the main barn converted for dairy use., and the road realigned through the middle of the village. The evolving location, type and condition of these buildings and their patterns of settlement identify individual status and reflect broad patterns of community life as this place evolved from a small furnace into an ‘iron plantation’ and thenon into independent dairy a farms and today an area for appreciation of Hopewell’s history and public recreation. pleasuring ground.public recreation.
Hopewell’s emergence as a recreation area also directly reflects the national economic climate. As the United States struggled under the dark cloud of depression, the FDR administration established programs to bring relief to belabored citizens. Hopewell served two purposes in the recovery effort. First, the Civilian Conservation Corps camps established in and around Hopewell provided respectable employment and hope for men left economically bereft by the financial collapse of the country. Second, the administration saw this area of undeveloped land providing psychological respite for urban dwellers struggling with the nation’s economic circumstances.
Through this effort, the national and state parks were established and the picnic shelters, campgrounds, trail and road system, and historic village were built, rehabilitated or reconstructed. As visitation grew, other initiatives including a second initiative (the NPS Mission 66 and the Bicentennial) provided funding for park operations and visitor services buildings, resulting in the park of today. In the 19th Century, Iron was Pennsylvania’s leading industry; today, tTourism is among the state’s most profitable industries. Hopewell’s history uniquely demonstrates this important shift in the national economy.
The stories associated with this theme include those of enslaved people, indentured servants and free workers, furnace workers as well as farmers, miners, teamsters, woodcutters and colliers, and iron stories and those of diary farmers, CCC-workers and recent park users.