GEIGERTOWN PA – Ironmaster L. Heber Smith and his family will open the doors of their mansion to visitors Friday through Sunday (Dec. 1-3, 2023), allowing them to enjoy elaborate Victorian decorations during the 23rd annual “Christmas at Joanna” Furnace. The event, warmed by candlelight and featuring a decorated 15-foot cedar tree, will be held at the furnace grounds, 1250 Furnace Rd.
Those who attend will learn about the ironmaster’s Christmas, and the work of the furnace and its employees. They also will have a chance to participate in holiday activities that include Victorian dancing. The Hay Creek Trio is scheduled to perform Civil War-era music while the Hay Creek Dancers entertain in period dances. Guests can step onto the dance floor and take part as well.
And as they leave the mansion, guests will also be treated to a cookie!
The three-day vintage Christmas celebration will operate Friday from 5-9 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 4-9 p.m. Admission costs $10 for adults, with children age 12 and younger admitted free. Convenient parking is located on the furnace grounds, and along its safely-lit Furnace Road. The historic site is located three miles north of Morgantown on Route 10.
See what 18th century life and work were like
Members of the Hay Creek Valley Historical Association, responsible for Joanna’s operations, say many visitors are captivated by its historic night-time setting. They’ll also get to see what it was like to live on an iron plantation during the 18th and 19th centuries.
Guests can walk the luminary-lined paths of the 26-acre furnace site to stop in at its office and store building, casting house, blacksmith shop, and newly constructed wheelwright shop. The luminary pathways consists of 1,000 glowing candles that impart a serene charm across the complex. Costumed interpreters will be available to discuss the work surrounding Christmases of 150 years ago.
Another way to cover ground at the furnace is by an old-fashion wagon ride through the plantation. Rides run continuously though the site, which is specially illuminated for the event.
Children are likely to find wonder – and maybe temporarily lose themselves! – in Joanna’s 3,200-square-foot light maze. It’s set on the hillside that overlooks the grounds. Visitors also stop at a live re-enactment of the Nativity, for a different and meaningful experience of the Christmas story.
In the mood for a song? Nestle up to a roaring bonfire and hear holiday music performed by local community groups. Visitors are encouraged to sing along, and enjoy stories of Christmas legends told by the furnace’s Ghost of Christmas Present.
Because no Christmas event is complete without toy trains, the association offers an antique and vintage train display, located in its mechanical technology building. Also there, a 19th-century line shaft will be operating old-time manufacturing machinery. Additionally throughout the weekend, the furnace sawmill (at right) will operate to show how lumber was made from logs during the period.
Satisfying hunger, thirst, and gift needs
To satisfy any hunger or thirst, foods and drinks prepared by association volunteers will be available to purchase throughout the week-end.
They include sausage sandwiches, homemade pork and sauerkraut, macaroni and cheese, hot dogs, hamburgers, french fries, soup, chili, soda, bottled water, coffee, hot chocolate and hot mulled cider. Fresh kettle corn is also popped nightly. Food can be purchased with food tickets at conveniently located booths on the grounds; credit cards are accepted for food payments.
Its Christmas Market features more than 30 vendors offering a variety of juried crafts and food items for purchase. The market presents ornaments, wreaths, home décor and country craft items, hand-spun wool products, candles, jewelry, soaps, Christmas cookies, candies, cakes, and cheeses, among other products.
Market visitors also may purchase tickets for its gift basket raffle. Baskets include gift certificates, holiday and home improvement items, family fun activity passes, pet supplies, and specialty gifts. Many are donated by area businesses, and are valued from $40 to several hundred dollars.
Photos by Travels With The Post