UNION — One of the more visible examples of the federal government shutdown that began Tuesday is at the region’s national park facilities.
And one of the people most visibly upset by the shutdown is Edie Shean-Hammond, the superintendent of Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site in Berks County, a job she describes as being among “the best in the world.”
A 38-year veteran of the National Park Service, Shean-Hammond has been through government shutdowns before, but that doesn’t make this one any more pleasant.
“I’ve been saving ever since I realized this was coming, and who knows how long its going to last,” she said Tuesday as she was shutting down her office and the visitor center at the site.
All personnel at the site — 11 employees at this time of year — are officially on furlough, she said.
“A good deal of our staff is seasonal, so we have fewer people here at this time of year, but it is still a very popular place to visit in the fall,” Shean-Hammond said.
“There were 600 people in the visitor’s center alone on Saturday, so that probably means there were as many as 1,000 here on Saturday and we were equally busy on Sunday,” she said. “We’ve had a really busy year in terms of visitation.”
One reason is the heritage apple orchard on the grounds, where 32 different species of heritage apples are grown and the public is allowed to pick them.
“We have apples you can’t find anywhere else in Pennsylvania and now they are going to go to waste,” she said.
The next scheduled activity at Hopewell Furnace is an Oct. 13 lecture on “Hex Signs in Art,” put on by the Friends of Hopewell Furnace organization Shea-Hammond said.
She said the easiest way to find out about the site’s status in terms of opening again is to call 610-582-8773 “and then press 3 when you hear the menu.”
At Valley Forge National Historic Park, a U.S. park ranger stood about 20 feet from the entrance turning visitors away Tuesday.
The phone message at that park indicates that the park is currently closed, as are the park roads and trails.
However, the public roads which run through the park — Route 23, Route 252, Gulph Road and Yellow Springs Road — are open to traffic.
Also closed are the national historic sites in Philadelphia’s Independence Mall, Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell pavilion.