Skip to Content
Watch BCTV Now
/ Articles / Community /

Christmas at Joanna . . . A three-night 19th-century Christmas Experience

Nov 13, 2017 • by Joanna Furnace
Christmas at Joanna

For three evenings in December, Historic Joanna Furnace glows with the warmth of a 19th century Christmas season. Friday, December 1, from 5 pm to 9 pm, Saturday, December 2 and Sunday, December 3 from 4 pm to 9 pm; throngs of visitors will be able to experience Joanna Furnace in a new light. Thousands of luminaries light the walkways throughout the furnace complex; flood lights gently illuminate the 226-year-old iron furnace complex; bonfires mark gathering places for warmth and the old traditional community festivities of Caroling, storytelling and meeting the Belsnickle. Visitors will once again be able to experience the excitement of a 19th century Joanna Furnace Christmas and gain a new perspective on their own Christmas celebrations.

Bring your camera to record the 19th century!

The whole historic site takes on an entire romantic new glow. Visitors are encouraged to explore the furnace complex by following lighted luminary pathways. All aspects of this after dark-event will set the stage for an unforgettable family Christmas-time experience.

Savor festival foods surrounded by those you love, stroll through our Christmas Craft Market

The Hay Creek Valley Historical Association is proud to provide guests with a variety of wholesome holiday foods. Enjoy such homemade foods as sausage sandwiches; hot dogs; pork and sauerkraut & mashed potatoes; soups, chili; and French fries. Warm up with a steaming cup of hot chocolate, hot mulled cider or coffee.

The Christmas Craft Market is comprised of over 30 vendors.  Most vendors are located in the outdoor Christmas Market. In the expanded area, a heated tent will house a number of the vendors. This year there is an even more extensive selection of quality gifts from which to choose.   Examples of the quality craft gift items include homemade wreaths, alpaca fiber items, hand-woven linens, hats and scarves, candles & soaps, jewelry, wrought iron & wood crafts, bottled wine varieties with wine tasting and other holiday décor items.  In addition homemade baked goods,  cakes, cookies & candy, September Farm Cheese, fresh roasted nuts, kettle corn and many other holiday foods will be available to purchase.

In this year’s Gift Basket Raffle, 12 gift baskets with a combined value of over $2000 have been donated by local businesses. Also, visitors can enter the Christmas Tree Raffle for chances to win a fresh cut Christmas tree for only $2.

Lantern lighted walking tours of Joanna Furnace –

Interpreters will guide visitors through the historic complex. Lantern-lighted tours will take groups on walking tours through the furnace complex. Tours begin at 5:30 pm and will depart from the stage area. In addition to touring the Furnace complex, visitors will have the opportunity to meet the Storekeeper who is keeping the Joanna Furnace store open for guests, visit the Blacksmith in the Blacksmith Shop and the molders in the casting house hard at work on making furnace products. The tours and building visits are free.

Young love and joining of two 19th century iron dynasties

Smith family tradition states that a dance was held late in 1867, one hundred and fifty years ago.  At this dance, the plan was to introduce a young daughter of the Grubb family, from Cornwall Furnace to the dashing young Civil War hero, Col. L. Heber Smith, heir to the Joanna Furnace fortunes. As fate would have it when the Colonel arrived at the event, he spotted the wrong sister—his eye caught the younger Jennie Grubb. He asked to be introduced to her. During the evening he was cordial to the older sister, but it was Jennie Grubb who caught his eye. As the story goes, she stole his heart, and the feeling was reciprocated.

It was that party and the relationship that was initiated there that we are celebrating in this 2017 edition of Christmas at Joanna.

Just over six months later on June 17, 1868, Jennie Grubb and L. Heber Smith were married in Lancaster.

Visitors can relive those party festivities of 150 years ago by coming to the mule stable and join the dancing with the Hay Creek Interpreters just as in 1867.

The mansion Christmas tree  

Each year, as was the 19th-century custom, it was a tradition that a 15’ cedar tree would decorate the Ironmaster’s mansion. Visitors will be in awe of the grandeur of the Smith’s Christmas tree for 1867. They will also learn about all the handmade ornaments that decorate the tree.

Caroling Around an Inviting Bonfire

Joanna Furnace Carolers will entertain guests with traditional Christmas songs. These programs will take place at 6 and 7:30 pm and happen at Bull’s Stage.  Visitors will find the stage bonfire to be a great central meeting place. Visitors are invited to join in the Christmas Caroling at this bonfire. Kris Kringle will make an appearance at the fire and will read a 19th -century Christmas classic for the delight of the young and young at heart.  And as usually happens at this event, the uninvited switch-carrying Belsnickle is sure to be present at the main bonfire. He will pass out treats to the “good” boys and girls . . . Mischievous boys and girls, beware!

Trains, Toys & Old Time Machinery . . .  In the Mechanical Technology Building

No Christmas event is complete with toy trains. Children of all ages will be enthralled by the Antique & Vintage Train Display – located in the Mechanical Technology Building.  To complete early 19th-century technology interpretation, the Joanna Furnace line shaft will be operating actual old-time manufacturing machinery. 

Wagon Ride & Luminary Pathways

Enjoy old-fashioned wagon rides with your family through luminary pathways and the gently lighted Joanna Furnace complex. There is a small fee will be charged for the Wagon Ride activity.  Visitors are also encouraged to stroll through the luminary pathways of 1,000’s luminaries that decorate the 26-acre Joanna Furnace walkways.   Back again this year is the large light maze in the old mansion gardens that will challenge youngsters and the young at heart. 

Admission is $7.00 for adults, Children 12 & under are Free.  Parking is free.

The “Christmas at Joanna” Event is  held December 1 – 3, 2017, from 5 pm to 9 pm Friday evening and 4 pm to 9 pm Saturday and Sunday at Historic Joanna Furnace “Where the Spirit of Christmas Comes Alive”!

Joanna Furnace is located three miles north of Morgantown off Route 10. Look for signs and enter by turning on Furnace Road. Parking is available on site and along Furnace Road. A safely lighted, easily accessible parking area is located along Furnace Road. For the safety of visitors, all are encouraged to avoid parking along route 10.

The Hay Creek Valley Historical Association is a non-profit organization.  Net event proceeds support the education, research and restoration of this important 18th & 19th century charcoal-fueled iron furnace and community. For additional information visit www.haycreek.org, friend Joanna Furnace on Facebook or call 610-286-0388.

We need your support!

Your contribution makes community media possible.

A donation of any size to your nonprofit media organization supports the future of media access in our community - the things you love, and the places you know, by the people you care about.

Watch BCTV Live