I made two visits to Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site in January, in vastly different weather. The first was on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Hopewell is closed on Mondays, I discovered when I arrived, but while the historic iron village is shut down, the trails are open. I found a pulloff and trailhead a mile from the visitor’s center and headed off in the late afternoon.
I’ve been to French Creek State Park, which surrounds Hopewell, but I’ve never been to the iron village or its trails. I found the hiking easy, with soft ground and far fewer rocks than I normally encounter here in Rocksylvania. The National Park Service did a good job of marking and signing the trails I walked, and I put in two miles that afternoon following the signs and catching up on the history of Hopewell. The ruins to your right were a woodcutter’s house last occupied by a black worker a century and a half ago. He received equal pay as his white coworkers and worshipped at the same church, just as others of his race had done at Hopewell fifty years before. In other words, in at least one place freedom rang fourteen decades before Dr. King had a dream…..
Between my hikes nine inches of snow fell. Despite that, the visitor center and historic village was open, and I set off. This was my first experience hiking in deep snow since childhood, and I found the one mile tiring. So tiring that after getting home and having dinner I fell asleep at my computer. Still, the effort was worth it. I was cold, but I could duck into a couple of historic buildings opened for visitors and get out of the wind. An additional inch of snow fell during my visit, which added to the magic of the scene. I can’t wait to visit Hopewell in warmer weather, and hike the trails surrounded by green instead of white.
For more information on Hopewell Furnace, visit http://www.nps.gov/hofu/index.htm