The End of a Season

Our time here at Hopewell Furnace has just flown by, but today was Rob’s last day at work and tomorrow we are hitting the road. We have a 1,700+ mile journey ahead of us as we make our way to North Dakota. We have some stops planned along the way as well as a visit with some family. This time of year makes for some beautiful scenery and we are looking forward to everything that lies ahead.

Rob took the camera out a few mornings ago and got some beautiful pictures of the park. I though it only fitting to share some of them with you on this, our last night here. Hopewell Furnace has been incredible and it is a place that will always hold a special place for us.


Treasure Hunting

We have always enjoyed geocaching, so we decided to spend the afternoon treasure hunting. Finding the first one was an adventure in itself because both of the boys had a GPS and they were leading us all over the place. It took them a little while to figure out which way to go, but before too long they led us to our first location near the old schoolhouse. The kids dug through the tube and found treasures to trade with things they had brought from home.

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As we were approaching our second location, we saw what looked like a small school group. As we got closer, though, we saw that it was a couple of families out enjoying the day together. They were geocaching as well and it just so happened that we were all looking for the same treasure. They had been looking for a little while and were not having any luck finding it. William ended up spotting it in a hole in a tree. So again, all the kids traded treasures and we were once again on our way.

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We are right in the middle of a state park and there are hundreds of geocaches here, but we only found the two today. Over the course of our stay we should be able to find many more. We like to go for walks and geocaches are a good way to add a little extra fun along the way.

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Flowers for Hopewell

After we left the casting demonstration last weekend, Rob took us to the Administration Office so the kids and I could sign up to be volunteers. Our first project was to plant some flowers around the sign on the road. Armed with yard tools, a bucket of water and a couple flats of orange marigolds, we set off to work.

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It was tough work digging up all of the grass under the sign. There were some spring bulbs already planted so we were trying to be gentle with them. Mostly it was digging, digging, digging.

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While the kid and I finished digging out all of the grass, Rob went for a tractor load of nice, rich mulch. By the time we were finished, he had returned and we were able to mound a nice area for the flowers. The area looked pretty nice once all the flowers were planted. It will look even better as they grow and fill out. We visit them every other day with buckets of water.

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The entire project took us almost three hours from start to finish. There is another small area that they would like some flowers planted in so I think that will be our next project.

As we were leaving, the kids spotted a frog on the fence. They had actually found it earlier in the flower bed, but they had let him go. He was just hanging out, almost invisible to those not looking, me included. After visiting with him for a few minutes, we headed off toward home, where Otter Pops were waiting for us in the freezer…

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An Afternoon at Hopewell

Last weekend, Hopewell Furnace National Historical Site held a casting demonstration. When Rob was done working, we ventured over to see how they used to make parts for the cook stoves. It is quite the process. I am not entirely sure I understand how it all works, but I will do my best.

They started with a template, a wooden frame, and several scoops of sand. They then pounded sand over the template to create a mold for a new door and the audience was invited to go up and pound for a minute.

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After they pounded one side, they put two frames together, added more sand and pounded the other side, until their template was sandwiched between the two.

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After all the pounding was complete, they separated the frames, removed the template and there was the pattern, perfectly shaped in the sand. After they removed the template, the put the frames back together.

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It was then time to pour the hot metal into the mold. If I recall correctly, they used to use steel to make the stove parts, but for the demonstration they were using aluminum. It only took about five minutes for the metal to cool enough to separate the frames and see the new stove panel.

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There was a blow-hole in the little door, so they were a little disappointed about that, but I thought they did a wonderful job. I thought I heard one of them say the fire had been off too long, so perhaps the aluminum was not quite hot enough. Back in the day this would have lost the worker money, but these days they can just toss the metal back into the fire and reuse it.

It was pretty neat to see how it worked, and this is only part of the process! Men used to feed the fire every 30 minutes with three types of rock. There were others out gathering and stacking. They went through an acre of charcoal every day! There is so much to learn and we have just scratched the surface.