Index

Pictures

Outside the Furnace Furnace & Charging Shed Front of the Furnace Hoist
Outside the Furnace Furnace & Charging Shed Front of the Furnace Hoist
Water Wheel & Air Tubs Closeup of Air Tubs Diagram of Bellows Tuyere
Water Wheel & Air Tubs Closeup of Air Tubs Diagram of Bellows Tuyere
Interior of Casting House Casting Bench Iron Castings Iron Stove Front
Interior of Casting House Casting Bench Iron Castings Iron Stove Front
Anthracite Furnace Interior of the Anthracite Furnace Interior of the Anthracite Furnace Pouring Pig Iron
Anthracite Furnace Interior of the Anthracite Furnace Interior of the Anthracite Furnace Pouring Pig Iron

Pictures and information about Charcoal Production can be found at this linked page.

Pictures and information about the Hopewell Community can be found at this linked page.

Description

Hopewell Furnace is maintained by the Federal Government and is a National Historic Site. In addition to the furnace, the entire iron furnace community has been restored by the National Park Service, although some ongoing restoration work continues. The site offers lectures on the operation of the furnace and conducts demonstrations of both the mold construction and the pouring of castings.

The original furnace supplied the air blast by means of water powered bellows. The diagram of this setup is noted in the picture. Around 1800, the furnace underwent extensive alterations and repairs, including the installation of air tubs, which replaced the bellows. See the Cornwall Furnace for more information on air tubs. The forced air (about 3/4 to 1 psi) was piped to the furnace where it entered via the side tuyere.

In addition to pouring pig iron, Hopewell made finished products by pouring the molten iron into sand molds. The patterns for these molds were produced by master craftsmen and maintained on site. The pattern was placed at the bottom of a wooden frame, known as the drag. After a light coating of sand was sprinkled to set the initial pattern, special foundry sand was pounded into place to the top of the box frame. The drag was then flipped over to exposed the pattern. The cope (a second wooden frame) was then pinned into position with the drag. A light sprinkling of sand was repeated, followed by filling up the cope box. A gate hole was added to permit flow of metal, along with a riser to supply metal during the cooling process (cooling iron tends to shrink). After the cope and drag were filled, they were separated, permitting removal of the master pattern. After reassembly, the molten iron was poured into the mold, creating an exact duplicate of the master pattern.

During its long history, many parts were made at Hopewell, including castings, hammers, anvils, pots, ovens, stoves, clock weights, griddles, grindstone wheels, grates, threshing machines, sash weights, drying kilns, and tea kettles, along with many, many, other items. From its founding untill 1844, a major product at the furnace was the iron stove. Hopewell assembled very few actual stoves as a complete assembly. Instead, they produced all of the required plates and then sent the plates to a stove maker. The stove maker would assemble the plates, adding connections, bolts, and sheet metal. King Joseph Boneparte ordered a special stove from the Hopewell furnace in 1822.

In 1853 Clement Brooke built an arthracite furnace. This type of furnace was intended to use coal instead of charcoal in the iron smelting process. However, its operation at the Hopewell site only lasted until 1857. The sulpher ore (found at the Hopewell mine in 1846) could not be smelted without first mixing it with another ore located at some distance. Further, the cost of transporting coal from the Schuylkill Canal to the furnace was extremely expensive. In 1857 the equipment was moved to a site located on the canal known as the Teresa Furnace. In 1859 the new furnace was sold to another firm and was renamed as the Monocacy Furnace.

First Visited: 3Q 2002

History

Start of Operation: 1771

Blowout: 1883

Daily Tonnage: 4 tons/day of pig iron & 2.5 tons of castings - about 6.5/7 tons per day total

Built By: Mark Bird

Stack: 30 feet w/6-1/2 foot bosh

Blast: Cold

Type: Charcoal

Directions

Located at the Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site, just south of Birdsboro, PA on Route 345. The site can be located at the NPS Website or telephone 610-582-8773.

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