Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site was notified by the now former Director of the National Park Service, Jonathan Jarvis, that it was the 2016 recipient of the National Park Service Architectural Design Accessibility Merit Award for the newly constructed ADA-compliant parking area and Big Woods Trail through the lower Hopewell Village. The award is given to a National Park Service park to recognize exemplary design and construction that creatively exemplifies the concept of universal accessibility and resource protection. This segment of the Big Woods Trail project made improvements to the historic road provided an accessible parking area, and accessible connectivity through the lower Hopewell Village and to the Village’s center, the furnace, cast house, and to French Creek State Park. The award also recognized the accessible amenities along with the physical trail construction including; interpretive panels, waysides, and kiosks.
This accessible stretch of the Big Woods Trail at Hopewell Furnace NHS is brings efforts one step closer to completing the 13-mile trail linking major features of the area including the Schuylkill River Trail, French Creek State Park and the State Game Lands, planned through the Hopewell Big Woods. The project was made possible through a partnership with the Schuylkill Highlands Conservation Landscape administered by Natural Lands Trust. Natural Lands Trust managed this trial project and applied for the funding received from the state for this project ― through the PA Department of Community of Economic Development Commonwealth Financing Authority (largely) and PA Department of Natural Resources ― with matching grants from regional foundations. In addition to the trail construction and parking area, the grant funded accessible interpretive panels, kiosks, waysides, bike friendly gates, bike racks and benches to enhance the visitor experience.
Carol De Wolf, Project Manager and Director, Schuylkill Highlands Conservation Landscape stated, “ we share this recognition with our collaborative partners; our consultants KMS Design Group, Communications Results, Interpretive Graphics and Barwis Construction who worked tirelessly with us over a three year period to offer this wonderfully rich accessible experience through our iconic Hopewell landscape.
“We are thrilled to have this important partnership project recognized at a national level” said Site Manager David Blackburn. “The project provided long needed parking and Hopewell Village access to individuals with mobility impairments.” “It is an important link in the Hopewell Big Woods eventually connecting the Historic Site to the Schuylkill River Trail.”
Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site preserves and interprets an early American industrial landscape and community. Showcasing an iron plantation and its surrounding countryside, Hopewell Furnace was active from 1771 to 1883. The park’s facilities are open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. It is closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. Hopewell Furnace is located five miles south of Birdsboro, PA, off of Route 345. Admission to the park 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 [email protected]. Visitors with specific needs may contact the park for assistance before their visit.