Sunday, October 3, 2010

Iron Hill Museum

Noor and her best bud spent the day in a private class at the Iron Hill Museum, which is housed in a one-room schoolhouse that was the "former Iron Hill Public School 112-C, built in 1923 as one of more than 80 schools for black children and given to the state by philanthropist Pierre S. du Pont."



Drivers who speed down I-95 past Iron Hill probably never imagine:
George Washington stood atop the hill and spied on the British on Aug. 26, 1777:
Minqua Indians raided Lenni Lenape villages there in 1661.
The governor of Pennsylvania operated an iron forge there in 1725.
The yellow, one-room schoolhouse there houses a stuffed brown bear, mosasaur bones, a whale's shoulder bone, a 10-million-year-old extinct oyster shell and live Madagascar hissing cockroach babies born last summer. 
Iron Hill, now a quirky wonderland for children interested in science, has had more past lives than Shirley MacLaine. It was an American Indian mining site. British troops pitched their tents there in 1777. Caesar A. Rodney, nephew of the signer of the Declaration of Independence, led an encampment of American troops there during the War of 1812. P.S. du Pont built a state-of-the-art African-American school there in 1923.
What mineral first drew American Indians to Iron Hill? The answer isn't the no-brainer you expect. It was jasper, not iron ore, that drew them to Iron Hill in the 1600s and possibly earlier. Archaeologists believe they quarried the hill's jasper, a sharp-edged variety of quartz, and made it into tools on-site. The evidence: They found thousands of jasper chips leftover by the toolmakers.  (Kathy Canavan, Special to the News Journal)
Noor and Roman were treated to a tour of the museum and then they settled in to talk about the geology and geography of the area.  A trip to the old mine provided the opportunity to identify jasper and quartz.

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