Monday, March 6, 2017

Free March 12 Lecture at Hopewell Furnace Explores the Lonely Lives of the Forgotten Charcoal Colliers

A collier's work was lonely and took place in the woods.

Blogger's Note: The following was provided by Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site.

Who were the Colliers? What did they do? Where and how did they live?

These and other questions will be explored as the Friends of Hopewell Furnace host local historian Spencer Claypoole’s presentation on the lifestyles of these famous charcoal making men and women. 

The free program will begin at 2 p.m. in the Hopewell Furnace Conference Center on Sunday, March 12.

Three hundred years ago iron was first produced along the Manatawny Creek in Pennsylvania. 

Charcoal is a key ingredient. Colliers created that charcoal in the Pennsylvania wilderness of today’s Berks and Chester counties. 

For most of the year, Colliers lived in remote areas of the woods. The rest of the time they lived in houses some of which stand today in North Coventry.

Claypoole will help provide insight into what that life was like.

A member of the North Coventry Township Historical Commission for over 25 years and chairman since 2000, Claypoole is also a member of the Board of Supervisors. 

In 2012 the Owen J. Roberts Education Foundation gave Claypoole its Community Service Award. 

And in 2016 The Chester County Historical Preservation Network, of which Spencer was a past member, awarded him the Jane L.S. Davidson Award for historical preservation. 

Spencer holds a Masters degree in social work and has worked for close to 40 years with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania during which time he wrote and gave talks on the importance of local history to the growth of our nation.

Established in 1994, the Friends of Hopewell Furnace is the official non-profit fundraising arm of Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site. A 501(c)3 citizen organization, its mission is to support the preservation, maintenance and programs of Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site. 

Donations to the Friends may be tax deductible according to the rules set by the Internal Revenue Service. For more information visit the Friends web site at

While at Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site visitors are encouraged to go into the village, tour the buildings and learn about iron making and why Hopewell Furnace is important to our nation’s history. 

Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, the park is located five miles south of Birdsboro, PA, off of Route 345. 

For more information stop by the park's visitor center, call 610-582-8773, visit the park's web site at, or contact the park by e-mail at

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