In Hopewell, Pennsylvania, the proximity of iron ore, limestone, and charcoal led to this iron furnace’s success from 1771 to 1883. It also needed water from French Creek to run the air blast machinery allowing the furnace to reach smelting temperature. During the American Revolution, it produced cannon, shot, and shells for the Continental Navy. The 848-acre National Historic Site was authorized in 1938, making it one of the oldest in the nation.
Start with the short film at the visitor center, then take the self-guided walk through the “iron plantation.” Though the cold-blast charcoal process became outdated by 1883, the original furnace is still used each summer to produce aluminum products. Other costumed interpreters depict village life from late June to Labor Day. In September and October, visitors can pick 30 varieties of apples in the orchards for a small fee, similar to Capitol Reef National Park in Utah.
The site’s 12 miles of forested trails also connect into the neighboring French Creek State Park.
Inside the cast house, moulders cast molten iron into stove plates, cannonballs, and other products.
St. Paul’s parish in Mount Vernon, New York dates back to 1665, with the first church constructed in 1700. It was deconsecrated so the federal government could take ownership in 1980. This was the site of an important election in 1733 when Quakers were prohibited from voting, which led to a change in the law the next year. That election was covered in a newspaper opposed to Royal Governor William Cosby that subsequently went to court for libel, in a trial that helped established the freedom of the press in America.
Church tour, 1833 pipe organ, film, cemetery
Start your visit at the former carriage shed-parish hall where there is a small museum and a short film about the church’s historical significance. A volunteer will then give you a guided tour of the church that was built between 1763-87, interrupted by the American Revolution. In 1942, the pews were restored to their original configuration based on a historical document. If you are lucky, your guide will play the 1833 pipe organ and let you ring the bronze bell that was cast in 1758 at the same foundry in London that made the Liberty Bell. We met fellow National Park blogger Theresa here on a Saturday morning in September 2019. She posted about the visit on her excellent blog National Parks with T.
None, but you can walk next door to Dunkin Donuts if you arrive before the site opens.
St. Paul’s cemetery covers five acres and contains about 9,000 graves, dating back to 1704. Your guide will spend a bit of time covering some famous ones, but be sure to seek out the common grave for Hessian soldiers that used the church as a hospital following the October 1776 Battle of Pell’s Point (fought a mile from here).
Bent’s Old Fort on the Arkansas River on the prairie of eastern Colorado has been painstakingly reconstructed to its appearance of 1845. It was originally built in 1833, long before Fort Larned and Fort Union announced the U.S. military presence on the 1,200-mile-long Santa Fe Trail. Historical reenactors are happy to talk to visitors about the site and its famous inhabitants and visitors.
Reconstructed fort, film, living history
The “old fort” was originally built with the financial
backing of the two Bent brothers from St. Louis and a Taos trader named Ceran
St. Vrain. It was a huge success,
bringing a period of peace to warring tribes on the Great Plains, particularly
after William Bent married a Cheyenne woman.
Things changed once Texas was annexed by the U.S. in 1845 and the
military moved in, spurring a move to Bent’s New Fort 38 miles downstream.
The parking lot is less than a half-mile walk from the fort, yet we found that approaching on foot added to the historic experience, as did speaking with the reenactors roaming inside. Closer handicap parking is available. Another trail leads to the banks of the Arkansas River on a 1.75-mile loop.
In 1975, the adobe fort was reconstructed on its original foundation in southeast Colorado based on drawings by Lieutenant James Abert, a topographical engineer stationed here in 1845 and 1846.
$3 per adult except $5 during June 8-9 Santa Fe Trail Encampment, September 15 Hispanic Heritage Day, October 20 Native American Heritage Day, and the December 7-8 Traditional Holiday Celebration. America the Beautiful pass accepted, too.
All roads paved, although they can be closed due to spring
floods on the Arkansas River.
There are private campgrounds in nearby La Junta, Colorado and a public one run by the Corps of Engineers at John Martin Reservoir (27 miles east on Highway 50).
Explore More – What
combination of factors led William Bent to burn the original fort and build a
new one 38 miles down the Arkansas River?
Jamestown and Yorktown, Virginia are linked by the 23-mile Colonial Parkway, which passes through the well-known tourist attraction of Colonial Williamsburg. After the colony of Fort Raleigh proved a disaster, it was not until 1607 that the first successful English settlement was founded at Jamestown, Virginia. On October 18, 1781, General Charles Cornwallis surrendered his British troops at Yorktown, effectively ending the Revolutionary War. Though it was more than two years before a peace settlement was reached and General George Washington was able to march back into New York City, from where he retreated in 1776.
Remember back in 1777 in the aftermath of the battles of Saratoga when the French said they would help kick the British out of the 13 colonies? Well, not much happened until nearly four years later when Admiral de Grasse defeated the British fleet at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. The ships were unable to resupply General Charles Cornwallis’ troops at Yorktown, who then faced a siege by the combined American and French forces. Inside the National Park Service visitor center at Yorktown is a replica of a French ship that you can walk aboard without getting seasick. It also has a replica of General George Washington’s battlefield tent. Outside, cannons abound along the auto tour.
Five miles of trails wind through Old Towne and New Towne in
Jamestown, Virginia. There is an entry
fee charged, since most of this section of the park is run by the non-profit
organization Preservation Virginia. This
includes admission to the excellent Voorhees Archaearium, a museum built atop
the foundation of the historic statehouse.
Do not miss the reproduction glassblowing house. This area also contains portions of the
Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary War National Historic Trail and Captain
John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail.
The original 1607 James Fort was triangular in shape and, of course, had cannons facing the James River.
Visiting Yorktown is $10 per person or free with the America the Beautiful pass, but entering Jamestown requires a payment of $20 per person or $5 per person with the America the Beautiful pass. There is a separate entry fee for nearby Jamestowne Settlement living history museum , but it is free to walk the streets of Colonial Williamsburg (more info on our other travel blog).
All roads paved
There is no camping permitted within the park, but several private campgrounds can be found in the area, as well as numerous hotels since you will probably want to spend more than a day given the park’s proximity to Colonial Williamsburg.
Explore More – When an “ill” General Cornwallis sent his second-in-command to formally surrender his 8,000 troops, General George Washington was insulted and deferred the honor of accepting to whom?
This site in Deer Lodge, Montana commemorates the late-1800s lifestyle of cattle barons and cowboys. In 1866, Conrad Kohrs bought this ranch from Johnny Grant and went on to amass a huge cattle herd that grazed across 10-million acres of public land from Colorado to Canada. Today this remains a working ranch with the sounds and smells of horses, cattle, and poultry.
Working cattle ranch, living history demonstrations
There is no admission fee and a free guided tour is offered
inside the large ranch house originally built by Johnny Grant in 1862, with a
brick addition doubling its size in 1890.
After the tour, you can practice your roping skills on cattle
dummies. Be sure to stop by the
blacksmith shop to ask the volunteer there about all the different types of
horseshoes on display. Inside the Buggy
Shed you can see the elaborate harnesses once used on the huge Belgian draft
horses that still work here at the ranch.
You step back into the 1800s when you walk the quarter-mile
trail from the National Park Service (NPS) visitor center to the Grant-Kohrs
Ranch. A self-guided walking tour enters
15 buildings with displays on the history of cowboys, barbwire, branding irons,
and so much more. There are a total of 7
miles of walking paths on the property, including a nature trail along
As you explore, keep your eye out for livestock and cowboys on horseback. It was calving season for the Herefords when we visited in mid-May.