Camp Martin Travels

These entries will be a combination of historical day trips, graduate level travel courses, and just little stops along the way. I have been teaching 8th grade American History for over 25 years. I am also a Civil War Reenactor and have traveled to Germany and Austria with several groups of exchange students and written about our adventures. Please check all my posts by using the monthly Blog Archive tabs shown below. I have posted over 150 Blog Episodes since 2009... Please explore them all!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Elverson / Hopewell Iron Plantation


 Hopewell Iron Furnace
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Baumstown, Pennsylvania

Following our tour of Daniel Boone's Homestead we were off to visit nearby Hopewell Iron Furnace. I soon realized I needed to invest in a real GPS, as the one on my phone needs to be manually advanced and the phone turned in the direction you are going. Needless to say, the site was only fifteen minutes away but it took us about an hour to find it. I needed to turn around at least ten times in the middle of Nowhere, USA... Katelyn thought we would never find civilization again and I tried to ignore her as she searched the car for anything edible to sustain us, or flammable for a potential signal fire. However, we eventually found it with stomachs empty and bladders full.

Charcoal Fired Furnace Remains
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Hopewell Iron Furnace is a great example of one of the small iron furnaces that were prominent throughout Pennsylvania during the 18th and 19th centuries. The abundance of wood used to create charcoal to fire Hopewell's furnace, made Penn's Woods an ideal location for the iron foundry industry. The creation of larger, more efficient anthracite coal fired furnaces caused plantations like Hopewell to fade away into history. Hopewell was well known for the making of iron stove parts that were assembled and sold throughout the region. The land surrounding the property is a combination of French Creek State Park and state game lands which helps Hopewell maintain the colonial atmosphere and historical integrity.

Katelyn / Charcoal Wagon
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This was a bittersweet victory since I had bad memories of this place. As a youngster long ago, I got separated from my family here and got lost. It is amazing how those types of memories and feelings stay with you despite the passing of decades of time. Apparently, I briefly wandered away to check something out and when I turned around my family was gone. I was sure they were right around the corner but they seemed to have vanished into history? Somehow they didn't notice my absence... for some time, which is hard to imagine since even though I was little, I wasn't really that "little" even back then!

Hopewell Iron Furnace
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I wound up running back and forth between the dozen + buildings with no luck! I was beginning to panic and to make matters worse, a thunderstorm was coming and it began to rain. It was becoming a combination of "Home Alone" and "Night at the Museum" all at once! Just as I was about to really freak out, I suddenly ran into them... I can't remember how it all ended because I was so happy to be safely back with my family. I was so relieved to be going back to my modern world and would not have to remain in 1850's America working at the iron foundry for fifty cents a day for the rest of my life! I emotionally spilled out my stressful tale to Katelyn like a patient to a well paid therapist.

Iron Stove Part Sand Mold
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Amazingly Katelyn had a flat expression throughout the telling of my tale and didn't seem to show the slightest hint of empathy... When I finished my heart felt story, her only response was... "How much longer are we going to stay here?" Even when it eerily began to rain, I could tell the irony was completely lost on her when she asked if my magical phone had the ability to find a McDonalds nearby?

Water Wheel Power House
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Oh well, in the end, I faced my fears after all these years and at least Katelyn listened... It saved me some expensive therapy, and she works for fast food! We put the phone away and put trust in our gut since we were both hungry... It led us straight to a KFC in Shillington and Katelyn breathed a sigh of relief that we were finally safe back in civilization!

Iron Plantation Master's House
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Remember Kids... Always stay with your parents when visiting a historical landmark to avoid emotional trauma for the next thirty plus years.



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