Christmas at Joanna . . . the Holiday Spirit During Civil War in the Joanna Furnace Community
Morgantown, PA . . . One hundred and fifty years ago the nation was thrown into a significant upheaval, a fight for the survival of the spirit of the country. The onset of the Civil War also unleashed a new spirit of individuals and families. In 1860, this new spirit was setting the tone for several Christmas seasons to come at Joanna Furnace. Many uncertainties were on the horizon, the two sons of Levi Bull Smith, the iron master, would soon be going off to war, as would others from the community. Nevertheless, its Christmas time and the Joanna Furnace families have no better time to celebrate that spirit than to commemorate this most joyous Christmas season.
Visitors are encouraged to experience the 2011 Christmas at Joanna event, Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings 5 to 9 pm, December 2, 3 & 4 and to relive the spirit of Christmas in those early Civil War years. The Joanna furnace Mule Stable has been transformed into the 150-year old home of Iron Master Levi Bull Smith, his wife Emily and their family. As visitors enter through the warm glowing kitchen, the pleasant aroma of freshly baked pies and other seasonal treats is a welcoming sensation. Watch as young women of the household busily prepare delicious Holiday baked goods.
In the parlor, family members gather and make items to send to soldiers far from home on this Christmas. Visitors can simply watch the family doing their holiday preparations or interact with the family to learn more about life in the iron furnace community during the trying times of the early Civil War years.
Outside, the main roaring bonfire becomes the focal point of the furnace community. Here one can warm up by the fire and join in the singing of traditional Christmas Carols led by the Joanna Carolers. Everyone is encouraged to join in singing and then enjoy the reading of the “Night Before Christmas” by Joanna Furnace’s own Ghost of Christmas Past. By the holiday bonfire, from time to time, the Belsnickel has been known to appear and delight visiting children.
Candle light illuminates the entire furnace complex and the historic site takes on an entirely new glow. Over one thousand glowing luminaries festively light various furnace walkways. Visitors are encouraged to explore the furnace complex by following these clearly defined pathways.
Traditional wagon rides give visitors an alternative way to explore Joanna Furnace. Rides are $2 per person and occur weather permitting. Joanna Furnace historians offer free narrated “Lantern Light Walking Tours” giving the background story of the historic iron furnace. These free on-going tours begin near the small bonfire in the Christmas Craft Market starting at 6 pm.
Inside the Blacksmith Shop, a working blacksmith demonstrates his craft. Visitors can enter the Christmas Gift Basket Raffle. These baskets contain valuable items and certificates. All the baskets together contain over $2000 worth of gifts and certificates donated by the business community.
The Christmas Craft Market provides a showcase for visitors to shop for holiday gifts and home decorating items. Selected items available for purchase from our twenty handpicked vendors include Holiday ornaments, hand-carved Santas, Crocheted blankets and scarves, hand crafted jewelry and jewelry boxes, homemade cheeses and much more. In addition, hot foods, hot chocolate, hot mulled apple cider, soups, sausage sandwiches, Twin Valley Coffees and kettle corn are available for purchase in the Christmas Craft Market area.
The Living Rock Church of Elverson presents a Live Nativity complete with wise men and animals. Featured in the Mechanical Technology Building is a traditional toy train display and toyshop to fascinate children of all ages. Also on display in the Mechanical Technology Building, visitors can observe the array of operating early machinery.
Joanna Furnace is located three miles north if Morgantown off Route 10. Look for signs and enter by turning on Furnace Road. Adult admission is $5, children 12 and under are admitted FREE.
The Hay Creek Valley Historical Association is a non-profit organization. Net proceeds from this event are used to support the restoration of this significant 18th & 19th century charcoal-fueled iron furnace. For additional details call 610-286-0388.