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Park Shows Quiet Side Of Colonial Holiday

hopewell furnace: Park Shows Quiet Side Of Colonial HolidayELVERSON PA – The lumbering, big-as-a-mountain horse team that pulled an open wagon Saturday (Dec. 5, 2015) across the grounds of the Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site on Mark Bird Road attracted “ooohs” and “ahhs” from most children visiting there. Huge as they were, the animals nonetheless seemed well-mannered, and almost reverent.

Maybe that was part of the plan.

Furnace re-enactors were on hand Saturday to explain how things were done in the 18th century

Furnace re-enactors were on hand Saturday to explain how things were done in the 18th century

Other parks and historic locations in Southeastern Pennsylvania during December focus on the fun, food, entertainment, and trimmings of a Colonial holiday. Hopewell, while it demonstrated all of those, was decidedly more quiet, serene and ordinary in its presentation, labeled as an “Iron Plantation Christmas.”

Although Christmas Day was drawing near, Hopewell’s volunteer re-enactors made it clear every day at furnace was a working day. Two women tended to hand-making items while sitting near a small warming stove. Just outside, a third sat on a bench creating girls’ dolls from yarn as future gifts.

Tools on a workbench in the blacksmith shop were put to good use

Tools on a workbench in the blacksmith shop were put to good use

Next door in the blacksmith’s shop, two men explained the process – complete with a scientific description – of welding metal bars into a useful tool. Another handled tools and a vise on an adjacent shop table.

A mince pie (forefront, at right) might have been the extra flourish of a holiday meal

A mince pie (forefront, at right) might have been the extra flourish of a holiday meal

And the simple foods displayed – breads and cheeses, potatoes, and a mince pie – were what the furnace’s working families would have eaten in celebration, visitors were assured.

Hopewell Furnace is located roughly midway between Valley Forge and Reading

Videography and Photos by Joe Zlomek for The Post Publications LLC
Music: “The Soft Glow of Christmas Lights,” by Will Bangs, via Free Music Archive

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