America's Best History Spotlight

On this page we're going to Spotlight the lesser known historic sites and attractions that dot the history landscape across the USA and are worth a visit if you're in their area. And while they may be lesser known, some are very unique, and will be that rare find. You'll be, at times, on the ground floor, or maybe even know something others don't. It'll be fun. Visit them.

Warwick Furnace

Washington's Furnaces, Pennsylvania

General George Washington had been concerned about protecting his forges at Warwick Furnace and Reading Furnace since the British had landed at Turkey Point at the head of Chesapeake Bay. Even though he likely thought that their ultimate objective was to capture Philadelphia, he knew that the capture of the furnaces fifty miles west might even be more onerous to his keeping the Continental Army an effective fighting force. Those forges made his munitions, forged his cannons, and repaired his weapons. So after the losses at Brandywine and the Battle of the Clouds, Washington rendezvoused his men at Yellow Springs Tavern and made plans to head west.

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Info, What's There Now, History Nearby

Reading Furnace

Washington's Furnaces, Pennsylvania

While at Yellow Springs Tavern, General Washington made the calculating decision, forced by a feignt by the British, that the forges were their higher priority. Prior to heading west, however, he wanted to secure provisions stored in a building at Valley Forge and send two of his best commanders, Harry Light-Horse Lee and Alexander Hamilton to get them. Unfortunately the British had the same idea, and secured the provisions at the little known Battle of Valley Forge three months prior to their encampment.

So Washington decided to leave one quarter of his forces in the area near Yellow Springs under General Anthony Wayne, and march the rest eight miles, likely through back roads, to the forges at Warwick Furnace and Reading Furnace. It is possible, since he may have eaten dinner at Seven Stars Inn, that some troops traveled up Route 23, which would have been the longer path. It is said that they arrived there on September 18. No matter the path, once there, the men repaired their guns, and Washington mulled what to do with his cannon. A rumor circulated for years that he was so concerned about losing his cannon to the British that he buried them there, but that the rumor was untrue. In 2022, four buried cannon were found.

Image above: Sign and property at private Reading Furnace, 2020, America's Best History. Below: Houses and other historic buildings at Reading Furnace, 2020, America's Best History.

Reading Furnace and Village

Where Is It

To follow the path, you would leave the location of the Battle of the Clouds located in front of Immaculata University, then travel toward Chester Springs and Yellow Springs Tavern on Route 113. After that continue to Route 23 and head west about fifteen miles through the town of Knauertown, look for the sign to Warwick Furnace on the south side of the road, and turn left. The furnace will be on your right. To find Reading Furnace, use your GPS, it can be difficult to find, but is less than three miles away from Warwick Furnace on Mansion Road.

Minute Walk in History

The Philadelphia Campaign of the American Revolution had begun with the Continental Army losing the Battle of Brandywine and the Battle of the Clouds. Washington was concerned that the British would head west, to his furnaces at Warwick and Reading and destroy his ability to make his cannons and other munitions. Follow in his footsteps as he left the Battle of the Clouds to the restored remnants of the actual forge that not only made his cannons, Warwick, but would forge the first Franklin stove and munitions for the Civil War, as well as Reading Furnace.

What is There Now

Washington's Furnaces

Warwick Furnace has, several years ago, been preserved by the Pickering Trust, who bought the entire period property, then subdivided the Mansion and Barns to a private owner with a preservation easement. The remainder of the property is open to hike and witness the archaeological remains of the Warwick Furnace. Look for the several wayside exhibits and walk among the ruins.

Reading Furnace is an intact village of buildings privately owned with no waysides besides the signs for the farm. There is supposed to be a marker there, but we have never found it. Since this is private property, please don't walk on the land. You may walk down the roadway and view however.

When Open and How Much

The grounds of Warwick Furnace and Thomas P. Bentley Nature Preserve, which the remainder of the land is known as, is open dawn to dusk. Reading Furnace is not open, but can be driven or walked by. No cost for either.

Fees and hours are subject to change.

Warwick Furnace and Thomas P. Bentley Nature Preserve

History Nearby

It's a treasure trove of sites having to do with colonial America as well as the Revolutionary War itself. Most, surprisingly, are not national parks. They are still fascinating to visit, but as noted above, not coordinated as well as they should be.

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