Thursday, October 15, 2015

From Casting Iron and Forging Progress to Preserving Stories and Enlightening Visitors: Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site

Nestled in the heart of Berks County, PA, and surround by bucolic French Creek State Park, lies Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site (HOFU), a place that will surprise, enlighten and offer a rare glimpse into Southeastern Pennsylvania’s iron-making past and its influence on America’s industrial revolution.  Six Temple University ProRanger students joined Landscape Architecture and Design Associate Professor Robert Kuper’s class of senior design studio students to explore this unique historical site and draw inspiration from the beauty of its natural resources and the culture of its former inhabitants.  

Division Chief Frances Delmar
Hopewell Furnace Site Manager and Interpretation Division Chief Frances Delmar and Park Ranger Norman Feil, II provided the interpretative narration and walk-through necessary to accurately envision Hopewell Furnace at the height of its operations and iron-making production from the late 18th to the late 19th centuries.  But, as Delmar was sure to point out, “Hopewell is everyone’s place”; that is, unlike other very well-known national historic sites, Hopewell Furnace is the story of everyday people and everyday life.  

And, Delmar is right – while Hopewell figures prominently as the most intact example of an iron-making settlement, the real story is with its inhabitants and their day-to-day lives converting plentiful, local raw materials into finished products ranging from “Hopewell stoves” to hollow-ware to mortars and cannons used at the final battle at Yorktown.  In later years, Hopewell’s furnace produced “pig iron” that was used throughout the U.S. and the world.  

In addition to being technologically ahead of its time, Hopewell Furnace was a leader in gender and social equality.  The practice of equal pay for equal work was the norm – women earned the same as men for their work – and the workplace (including housing) was racially integrated.  

Park Ranger Norman Feil
After the last iron furnace was extinguished in the late 1880’s, the site fell into disuse and disrepair until the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), the national stimulus program under the leadership of President Teddy Roosevelt, put the young and unemployed to work on large scale conservation projects on federal and state lands, including Hopewell Furnace.  The CCC’s preservation efforts in the 1930’s saved Hopewell Furnace from ruins, but in a twist of irony, were a social step backward for Hopewell, as the CCC was limited to young men only, and racial minorities were required to work and live separately from whites.  

Today, Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site (just over an hour’s drive from Independence National Historical Park and less than 45 minutes from Valley Forge National Historical Park) is managed by the National Park Service and draws visitors looking to understand the cultural, natural and human resources behind the American industrial revolution, or to find respite and a quiet place to walk, run or recreate, or to simply take in the fall foliage in glorious shades of red, yellow and orange.  

Delmar also suggests families visit this time of year to gather and enjoy the kind of apples “you won’t find in a supermarket.”  For the bargain price of a dollar/pound (buckets provided), families can stock up on enough apples to last them through the fall.  Hopewell Furnace has something to offer to every visitor, but perhaps Neil put it best when he said the most valued finished product Hopewell “casts” today is enlightenment.

Hopewell Furnace Site Visit

Hopewell Furnace Site Visit

Yesterday, ProRangers Hannah Sender, John Hesdon, Julia Klejmont, Brittany Kriner, Kelechi Akabogu and I went on a site visit to Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site. Our Land Management and Federal Law Enforcement class, taught by Tony Luongo, teamed up with Temple Ambler landscape architecture students who are preparing an exhibit for the Philadelphia Flower Show. We were given an exceptional tour of the historic site from the very knowledgeable Ranger Normal Feil II. We learned about Hopewell's history and involvement in the iron production during the seventeen and eighteen hundreds. Many historic sites are deemed important because of a specific battle or event that took place. Hopewell Furnace is different because it represents American culture as a whole. It is not unique and there were many other villages that resembled Hopewell Furnace, but this specific site is the best preserved iron plantation of its time. Hopewell's iron production helped the United States grow into an industrialized society. We all gained an appreciation for lesser known historic sites and the beautiful scenery. We all plan to come back soon to pick a pound of apples for $1!

Hunting Season is Here

Hunting Season is Here

I spent my summer at Assateague Island National Seashore. Unlike many parks, Assateague Island has recreational hunting for park visitors. I was able to learn more about the hunting program and hunting procedures during my summer internship. For my conservation project, I helped Ranger Ian Morton prepare for the hunt season, which is now here. For my project, I researched the Maryland state hunting regulations and applied them to the new hunt plan for Assateague. I then hiked out to all the hunting areas and blinds and took photographs, GPS coordinates, and performed trail maintenance along the way. This was an amazing way to get to know all areas of the island and find some of the hidden beauties within the marsh. I also learned a lot about the hunting culture, firearm safety and hunting regulations from Chief Ranger Walt West. While I was working on my hunting project a sika deer, a non-native elk species, unfortunately got hit by a car. Chief West used this event to teach me how to age a sika deer and examine a hunt kill just like a Ranger would have to do during the hunt season. I am not a hunter so it was great opportunity to expand my knowledge and get familiar with a new subject. I gained a new appreciation for hunting and for the marsh, thank you Assateague!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

ProRanger Workout

ProRanger Workout

Tonight after night class ProRangers Nick Fitzke, Julia Klejmont, John Hesdon, Brittany Kriner, Tim Greene, Hannah Sender and I worked on our speed and endurance. Some of us are natural sprinters and some of us are natural distance runners. Working together and finding a balance between the two is making us all better runners. I'm looking forward to developing my speed and becoming a stronger cohort.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Papal Detail

Where do I begin about this past weekend event for the Papal Visit? The extensive preparation for such a historical event for Philadelphia? The TSA security checks? The amount of different government agencies that I discovered existed this past weekend? I do not know where to begin because of the overwhelming anticipation of such an event of this importance. Fellow ProRangers and I rallied up in front of the Liacourus Center at promptly 0445 hours. We greeted each other with sleepy eyes and eagerness to see what the day entailed for us. We entered the "zone" and ran through the TSA security check point heading for our 0600 hour briefing for the day and to find out more of what we would be doing. After the briefing, several of us were assigned to a Ranger and from there we followed orders of what to do.
Working next to U.S. Park Police from the Statue of Liberty
I had the opportunity to be stationed with my mentor Jordan Keiffer, who I got to know a bit better and helped guide the ProRangers and I through this confusing new experience of working a detail. We moved around to several different posts that needed to be covered and then later on in the day most of us were placed in Washington Square. From there we stood on post behind the Pope's personal tent making sure only Law Enforcement officers passed by us. Several others spent time roving the park of Washington Square to monitor for any suspicious activity. It may have been a lot of standing in one spot, but that's what building character is for. For myself, and I'm sure I can speak for the other ProRangers as well that we are all grateful to have been apart of such a truly life changing experience. To have had the practice of working a detail of this extent. To learn about CTR's and watch the process of an incident command system being run before our own eyes was absolutely amazing.
A view of the Pope's personal tent.

On our way to work at 0530 hours.

Sneak peek of the Pope!
Nothing like a classic family photo.
ProRanger Tim Greene and I protecting the Liberty Bell...or just asking for a photo in front of it.