As Independence Day approaches it's worth considering that the success of the American Revolution depended largely on the robust iron industry that thrived during the 18th century in the Pennsylvania Highlands region.
|Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site (Copyright 2013 - Robert P. Thomas)|
The Pennsylvania Highlands
are the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. The irregular ridges and deep valleys of this
unique landscape feature common cultural themes that directly reflect the Highlands
geology, which in
influenced the history of the region, and the outcome of the American Revolution.
The main components of iron making -- iron ore, limestone and wood (to
make charcoal) were abundant resources found throughout the Highlands
of early iron production and manufacturing is evident in the region's towns, historic sites and parks including, Bethlehem, Durham
Forge, Hopewell Furnace, Johanna Furnace, Cornwall Furnace, and Warwick
in particular was a primary source of supplies for the Continental
Army, providing cannon and musket balls. Iron blast furnaces consumed
enormous amounts of charcoal, which was produced by wood. Warwick
Furnace required about 240 acres of forest for its annual operations.
Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site provides visitors with a glimpse into workings of an 18th century iron making village. It's situated next to French Creek State Park and offers great hiking trails and other amenities. The PA Highlands Trail is planned to connect with several towns and historic sites that are part of the Highlands region's iron legacy.