March is Women’s History Month and what better way to celebrate than to visit Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site, a place where equal pay for equal work was the practice in the 18th and 19th centuries. Highlighting the celebration will be performances of the National Park Service play, “From Out The Fiery Furnace,” a one act play written and directed by nationally recognized playwright Christine Emmert.
Featuring the stories of life in the 19th century at Hopewell Furnace, the play is free and of interest to all ages. Staged in the park’s Visitor Center, performances are slated for Saturday, March 1, at 2 p.m.; Saturday, March 8, at 2 p.m.; Saturday, March 22, at 2 p.m. and Saturday, March 29, at 11 a.m.
Set on the “Homefront” of the Civil War, the play demonstrates how a woman’s life and love could be singularly tracked through her relationship with a Hopewell stove. Several characters of the period are brought to life including runaway slaves, “fallen” women, indentured servants, orphaned children, and others. The play also sheds light on the practices of the furnace including providing equal pay for equal work regardless of race or gender. Women worked side by side with men as finishers, colliers, woodcutters as well as many other occupations.
The play premiered during Hopewell Furnace’s Harvest Time event on Sept. 19, 2009. Five years later the play continues to enjoy success, playing to appreciative audiences in Pennsylvania’s Delaware Valley and upstate New York. According to National Geographic Traveler, it is the best outreach program offered by the National Park Service.
Hopewell Furnace Superintendent Edie Shean-Hammond said, “We are very grateful that these extraordinary artists have volunteered their talents to highlight the challenges faced by women at home during the Civil War. They have taken the show on the road in order to introduce new audiences to the history of the park.”
Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site preserves and interprets an early American industrial landscape from natural resource extraction to enlightened conservation. The site is surrounded by the 73,000 acre Hopewell Big Woods, the largest forest in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Showcasing an iron plantation and its surrounding countryside, all of the park’s facilities are open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday including Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day and Veterans Day. It is closed other federal holidays. On Mondays and Tuesdays, while the Visitor Center and historic village are closed, the grounds and restrooms remain open. A featured stop on Pennsylvania’s Civil War Trails, Hopewell Furnace is located five miles south of Birdsboro, PA, off of Route 345. Admission to Hopewell Furnace is free. For more information stop by the park’s visitor center, call 610-582-8773, visit the park’s web site at www.nps.gov/hofu, or contact us by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visitors with specific needs may contact the park for assistance before their visit.