Wednesday, 25 September 2019 / Published in News

Family Fun, Fabulous Foods and Restoration at Hay Creek Apple festival

MORGANTOWN, PA – Historic Joanna Furnace begins its celebration of the fall harvest season on Saturday, October 12 and Sunday, October 13. For almost forty years, the ever-popular Hay Creek Apple Festival has been a family tradition. This event draws visitors of all ages to those favorite traditional foods, seasonal hands-on activities for kids, the historic iron-making complex tours, a large flea market and much more. The crisp fall air and the crackle of leaves underfoot set the mood for this old-style tribute to fall and delicious culinary delights based on the ever-popular apple.

With its tasty variety of apple foods, the Hay Creek Apple Festival is one of the best places in the region to experience the many ways apples were served over two hundred years. Visitors can enjoy a variety of apple specialties, eating on-site or by taking the foods home.  The two-day event opens each day with our Apple Pancake and Sausage Breakfast served from 7:00 am to 11:00 am.

The Apple Festival menu includes such favorites as apple dumplings (served with milk), apple pies, apple crisp, Schnitz-un-Knepp, apple sausage sandwiches, apple fritters, apple bread, apple crisp (served with whipped cream), apples for sale, hand-dipped ice cream also available with apple specialties, and fresh-pressed cider. Other menu items include Homemade Mabel’s Kettle-Cooked Soups (Chicken Corn, Beef Vegetable, Ham & Bean), chicken potpie, hamburgers and hot dogs, French fries, soda, water and coffee.   As always, our famous chicken pot pie and Mabel’s homemade kettle-cooked soups are available by the quart to take home. 

In the early days of the Joanna Furnace community, apples were an important food source all year long. Many varieties could keep for months. Children of the early families had the vital job of checking the apples stored in barrels in the root cellar, making sure that “one bad apple” did not “spoil the bunch.”

The annual apple-baking contest will also take place. The Hay Creek Apple Dessert Contest is open to all those who have “that special family recipe,” which was handed down over the years, or to those who love to create their own special desserts. Details of the contest and prizes can be found at

The Annual Hay Creek Flea Market will be open at 7:00 a.m. A huge flea market will take place both days where visitors can purchase everything from household items, antique, vintage, children’s toys and clothing, and craft/home décor items.

Interested in being a Flea Market vendor? Call Kathleen at 610-914-8152. Vendor registration and set-up starts Friday – October 11th starting at 10 am.  Vendor applications can also be downloaded by using this link:

Numerous family activities round out the fun. These family events include scarecrow building, pumpkin painting, face painting for kids, and hay and pony rides. The children will love to ride on the popular Apple Barrel Express. A toy train exhibit will be on display in the Mechanical Technology Building.

Visitors can also purchase ‘scarecrow kits’ to take home. These kits will include the “t” frame, pants, shirt, head, string and accessories. As each scarecrow will have its own personality, each kit will contain different details including such varying things as bandana or belt, hat, tie, etc. and a small amount of straw to stick out of the hands and feet. Homebuilders can use their own newspaper to stuff their scarecrow.

Additional activities include a Petting Zoo and early machinery exhibits operating in the Mechanical Technology Building. Everyone will be able to enjoy visiting the historic ironworks buildings and learning about the Joanna Furnace from our interpreters.

In recognition of National Archaeology Month, there will be an archaeology table set up to introduce families to this exciting activity.

According to Mark Zerr, Executive Director, “This is an exceptional year for Hay Creek. In 2019 almost $300,000 was invested in our preservation projects. Visitors will have an opportunity to see our latest restoration project, the wheelwright shop which was under study and planning for the past several years and is currently under construction.”

Also, visitors can see our other project – phase one of the furnace bosh preservation. This significant project was underwritten by a PHMC Keystone Historic Preservation Grant, a grant from the Berks County Community Foundation, a National Historic Preservation Appell Grant, along with the friends and members of the Hay Creek Valley Historical Association.  The work on this valuable artifact was performed by the International Chimney Corporation of Buffalo, New York, famous for successfully relocating the Cape Hatteras Light House.

The Hay Creek Apple Festival at Historic Joanna Furnace is open on Saturday, October 12, 7:00 am to 5:00 pm and Sunday, October 13, 7:00 am to 3:00 pm.

The Festival site is at Historic Joanna Furnace Iron Works located just off Route 10, three miles north of Morgantown; turn right on Furnace Road. Admission to the Festival is FREE. Parking is on site with a donation.

For more information, visit or call 610-286-0388

Wednesday, 25 September 2019 / Published in News


Morgantown, PA . . .  2019 has been a banner year for restoration and preservation projects by the Hay Creek Valley Historical Association at the 228-year-old Joanna Furnace Ironworks near Morgantown. Approximately $300,000 will be invested this year to bring the charcoal furnace back to life through several restoration, preservation and research projects . . . preserving the blast furnace bosh, rebuilding the wheelwright shop and installing shutters on the office/store. In addition, a team from Kutztown University Department of Anthropology & Sociology is working on an archaeological study in the cellar of the Office/Store before installing a brick floor.

Ron Schlegel, President of the Hay Creek Valley Historical Association states, “Every project we undertake, within the historic area, follows the rigorous National Historical Standards as defined by the Federal Historic Preservation Guidelines. It’s these guidelines that define specific techniques, methods, materials and the required research. The federal standards drive how we execute projects. Following the rigorous Historic Preservation Standards will ultimately benefit the site when we work to obtain the coveted National Historic Landmark Status for the Joanna Furnace Ironworks in the future.”

Restoration of the Joanna Furnace Wheelwright Shop is set to begin. After almost 15 years of exhaustive research by Hay Creek archaeology volunteers, the original stone foundation has revealed the footprint of this historic building. This mortise and tenon frame structure was about 17 feet by 24 feet. Executive Director Mark Zerr said “It stood until the late 1940s. Mainly it was a woodworker’s shop. It was the wheelwright’s responsibility to keep the company’s wagons ‘on the road’. His job was to construct wheels, spokes, hubs and even the wagons that would haul the charcoal, iron ore and limestone to the site and ultimately transport the finished iron products to market.”

Because only one partial photo of this building exists, Hay Creek preservationists had to rely heavily on archaeology to create a complete reproduction of the structure. The archaeology team uncovered many artifacts over the years but the critical discoveries for the reconstruction were the foundation size, broken glass which indicated window placement, door size and roof material (over the years there were three roofs-two of beaver tail tile and the final of slate). The old partial photo added visual evidence to the fact it was made of board and batten construction like the blacksmith shop across the road. The photo also gave the restoration team a gable end view which enabled them to establish the exact dimensions of the building as well as the pitch of the roof.

Because of the stringent restoration standards Hay Creek subscribes to,  18th Century Restorations of Pottstown was awarded the mortise and tenon framing part of the project.  William M. Dunleavy Company of West Chester, who specializes in historic roof restoration, will be constructing the slate roof. John C.  Zerr & Sons of Geigertown will be constructing the poured concrete footer and stone mason Tim Angelo of Morgantown will be reconstructing the red sandstone foundation.

The Joanna Furnace Wheelwright shop is expected to cost approximately $115,000. The Hay Creek Valley Historical Association thanks an anonymous donor family who will be underwriting the major portion of this restoration project. This restoration donation honors the tradition of their father, grandfather and great-grandfather who were themselves, wheelwrights. This building will be completed in fall 2019.

Phase one of the Joanna Furnace bosh preservation has been completed. The Joanna blast furnace is unique among most of the remaining charcoal iron furnaces in Pennsylvania. It has one of the only ‘period’ boshes still in existence. This bosh, rebuilt before the last blast in 1898, makes Joanna Furnace an extraordinarily unique and valuable historic site.

The bosh is the firebrick lining of the lower funnel-shaped section of the blast furnace lining. This is where the temperatures were the hottest, exceeding 3000 degrees Fahrenheit. Because of severe wear the bosh was rebuilt every nine to fourteen months for as long as the blast furnace was in operation.

The bosh project phase one was underwritten by a PHMC Keystone Historic Preservation Grant, a grant from the Berks County Community Foundation, National Historic Preservation Appell grant, along with the friends and members of the Hay Creek Valley Historical Association.  The work on this valuable artifact was performed by the International Chimney Corporation of Buffalo, New York, famous for successfully relocating the Cape Hatteras Light House.

2019 has been a banner year in the restoration and preservation of Historic Joanna Furnace. Our event guests to the furnace are encouraged to visit the restoration sites. Executive Director, Mark Zerr stated, “Each year we strive to make the Joanna Furnace Ironworks more exciting for our guests. Our events are dedicated to preserving our local history and telling the story of the 18th and 19th centuries within the Joanna Furnace community.”

Wednesday, 07 August 2019 / Published in News
Wednesday, 07 August 2019 / Published in News