The ProRanger Philadelphia program is an academic, technical skills training, and internship program that is cooperatively administered by the National Park Service and Temple University. The program was established to recruit, train and employ law enforcement park rangers for the National Park Service.
Students take coursework during the academic year at Temple University and participate in internships at National Park Service sites during the summer. Follow their experiences here.
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
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
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.
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.