This week I had the opportunity of visiting the Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site. This was my first time visiting a National Historic Site so I wasn’t sure what to expect but the site was a beautiful area surrounded by meadows, forests, and wetlands as well as the French Creek State Park. When we first arrived here, we had some time to explore some of the artifacts and talk to the park rangers inside the visitor’s center. Afterwards, we removed some invasive plants and helped replace a fence that was protecting a re-seeded area from deer. After lunch, we had some time to walk around the historic site and I got to learn a little about how wood was transformed into charcoal. Ignited wood was built into what they called a three corner chimney, covered with leaves and dirt, and ignited in these charcoal pits (picture to the left). For 10-14 days, workers would keep an eye on the ignited stack of wood to stop any open flames while they waited for the wood to fully char. Once the wood was fully charred, the cooled charcoal would be loaded onto wagons and taken to a cooling shed.
I look forward to spending more time in Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site and learning more about the history there. This week’s visit was a nice sneak peek at what there is to learn about.
Later on in the week, we participated in crayfish corps. It is a volunteer based program in the park that works on removing the invasive rusty crayfish. While we were out in the creek with a group of volunteers, we found a crayfish with eggs! Luckily, this particular crayfish species was a native so we were able to place it back into the water safe and sound.