Monday, July 26, 2010

Day 38 Berks County, PA

We always plan a day in Berks County where I grew up when we come home at Xmas & the summer every year to see family & friends, buy pretzels & go to the original Vanity Fair Outlet in Reading. So here's some pictures of where I grew up.
Roadside America is in Shartlesville along I-78 and bills itself as the largest indoor minature village. It's about the size of a basketball court, it has lots of trains and handmade buildings.
The PA Dutch Gift Haus next door has Hex Signs & souvenirs.
Northern Berks County is noted for the PA Dutch Hex Signs on the barns.
Some people claim they are for good luck or to ward off evil spirits but most folks keep them painted "chust for nice."

I stopped to see my old boss Tom Schaeffer in Shoemakersville ( we call it Shoey)
I had sent him the pictures of the car license plate from various places around the country. 11,649 miles since we left NC.
My father was pastor of 2 churches, St. Lukes UCC in Shoey

and my home church, St. Michael's out in the country. (founded 1765)
The house I grew up in-the parsonage.

The 1st house I owned when I was married.
We always stop and buy as many boxes of pretzels as will fit in the car everytime we go back to Reading. Unique "Splits" are pretzels unlike any other you've ever had. Check their web site for ordering- the shipping is expensive however. We only had room for 2 boxes of 6 bags.
Hopewell Furnace NHS is in southern Berks County.
The NPS has rebuilt the foundry buildings around the original blast furnace and foundations.
The Furnace was a self contained iron making village producing pig & cast iron from the mid 1700's till about 1840.

Charcoal was the fuel for the furnace. Colliers consumed 1,000s of acres of trees to make the charcoal. The charcoal hearth was about 20' across and covered with leaves & dirt and when lit, burned slowly producing charcoal after about a week.

Wagons for transporting the 3 raw materials : iron ore, limestone & charcoal
Iron is created in a blast furnace by adding layers of the 3 materials

from the top into the stack.
The water wheel turned the blast machinery
forcing air into the bosch increasing the temperature and driving out the impurities in the iron ore. The same basic way Iron is made today.
The crucible is tapped at the bottom for raw pig iron and cast iron.

Pig iron was the base iron product produced to make other wrought iron materials.
Sand casting was the way to make a large amount of 17-19th century iron products.
Sand was hard packed around a wooden mold and molten iron was poured in to create
pots and pans and stove plates for

Franklin stoves. One of the most important products of the late 18th century

Hopewell also produced cannons for Washington's Army at Valley Forge about 30 miles away.
The Village also preserves a number of original bulidings, the store/office , Ironmasters home
the Wheelwrights shop

and a typical PA Bank Barn
The horse & sheep are not original to the village.

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