Joe and Nancy

Joe and Nancy
Our Home on Wheels (Click on image above for our web albums.)

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Valley Forge & Hopewell Furnace, PA

After leaving Northern Virginia, we drove right on up to Stoltzfus RV & Marine on Hwy 202 in West Chester, PA.  We are having our annual service on the motor home done here, and the general manager has been nice and let us stay there for the week of the US Open.  We stayed here from Sunday June 9 through Monday June 17.  Prior to arriving at the RV dealer, we stayed at the Sam's Club/Walmart RV Resort in Exton, PA, about 10 miles west of West Chester, near the eastern edge of Amish country.  We arrived here on June 6 and left three days later (Sunday).  While here in Exton, we visited Valley Forge & Hopewell Furnace.
On Friday the 7th, we just had to get out see one of America's treasures:  Valley Forge.  It was rainy day, all day.  The old train station converted to the visitor center.
Washington's HQ house.  Below, the back of the house (kitchen area)...
Here a few photos of the inside rooms.
From Wiki:  Washington's Headquarters at Valley Forge, was in the Isaac Potts House, located at the confluence of Valley Creek with the Schuylkill River, in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. General George Washington made his headquarters here during the encampment at Valley Forge of the Continental Army, during the winter and spring of 1777-1778.
We were told that most of the furnishings are from the original period when George & Martha resided here.
From Wiki:   This small house is believed to have been constructed in 1773 for Isaac Potts, (Pottstown) operator of the family grist mill. Although some sources place the construction date as early as 1759. In 1777-8 the property was owned by Isaac but rented to his aunt, the widow Deborah Hewes, who sublet it to Washington. The General's wife Martha lived here with him during the later months of the encampment and the administrative business of the army was transacted on the first floor.
From Wiki:  The National Memorial Arch is dedicated "to the officers and private soldiers of the Continental Army December 19, 1777 June 19, 1778". The Arch is situated at the top of a hill at the intersection of Gulph Road and Outer Line Drive.
On the grounds of the Potts House (Washington's HQ)
Barracks for Washington's Guard.  Requirements for this service were stringent.
A closer look at the visitor's center.
From Wiki:  The Washington Memorial Chapel and National Patriots Bell Tower carillon sit atop a hill at the center of the present park. The chapel is the legacy of Rev. Dr. W. Herbert Burk. Inspired by Burk's 1903 sermon on Washington's birthday, the chapel is a functioning Episcopal Church, built as a tribute to Washington.
Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site in southeastern Berks County, near Elverson, Pennsylvania, is an example of an American 19th century rural "iron plantation". The buildings include a blast furnace, the iron master's house and auxiliary structures including a blacksmith's shop, a company store and several worker's houses.
Hopewell Furnace was founded in 1771 by iron master Mark Bird for whom Birdsboro was named. The site's most prosperous time was during the 1820–1840 period with a brief boom in production during the American Civil War. In the mid 19th century changes in iron making, including a shift from charcoal to anthracite rendered smaller furnaces like Hopewell obsolete. The site discontinued operations in 1883.
While there, the rangers demonstrated how the plates of a 10-plate wood stove were made.  While the furnace does not actually "fire" these days, the demo was how the molds were constructed to pour the molten iron into.
Nancy assisting the ranger in "tapping" down the dirt/sand mixture compressing mold.
Here is a view of a 10-plate stove I borrowed from the web.
The rangers putting finishing touches on the mold preparations.
Cleaning out the openings so the molten iron can reach the mold plate.  And below is the mold after the top part of the mold (packed with the mixture) is removed.
Below are some of the old plates made here many years ago.
Above, two of the twn or so worker's bench where molds were assembled and prepared for the molten iron.
The stove is formed through a process called sand casting. Once sand is hardened into a mold in the shape of a stove, molten cast iron is poured into the cavity and allowed to cool.
When the iron master declared that the hot iron was ready for pouring, he rang the bell (in the bell tower next to the furnace) and the pourers rushed in to take their places with pots and handles.  When the plug was pulled, the iron rushed out and each rushed to capture a pot full and pour into the molds.
More of the work benches.
The iron master's house was comfortable and warm as he made a good living making iron products.
Well, that about wraps up our visit to Valley Forge & Hopewell Furnace.  It was a yucky weather day, but definitely a learning day for the RVing Beach Bums.
During our stay while volunteering at the Open, we found one of our all time favorite eateries:  Shady Maple Smorgasbord.  We ate here a few years ago, and it took us a while to find it again, but once we did, I am ashamed to admit, that we visited here about 5 times during the week.  And hit one last time as we left town on Monday, June 17.  Nancy said the Boston Creme Pie is outstanding.  I say the spinach salad is great.  Now, if you fall for that line, just hang around:  I have more blogs coming.  Enjoy!  RVing Beach Bums in Champaign, Il heading west.