At the beginning...
Originally, Hopewell was the post office name at a different location, Yellow Creek (Steeltown), until 1858. Hopewell village was originally Alaquippa, after an important Indian queen who lived in the area (at Mt. Dallas near present day Everett). Settlement had started here very early, possibly as early as 1771.
Two men from Chester County purchased the land in 1801 and built an iron furnace, possibly the first one in Western Pennsylvania. Nearby, they built a forge to manufacture nails. Coal was soon to be discovered and become a major product of the region.
The land became the property of the Hopewell Coal and Iron Company of Philadelphia, who laid out the land as a village in 1855, and in 1856 the Huntingdon and Broad Top Railroad was extended to the site. This is what led to the town's development. The railroad was extended to Everett in 1862, which joined there with the Bedford and Bridgeport Railroad.
C. W. Ashcom was an early settler, being a merchant until 1857, when he became superintendent of the new Keystone Foundry and Machine Shops. Capt. John Eichelberger, after serving in the Civil War, became a hotel keeper in his native Hopewell. John Malone, also a Civil War veteran, became postmaster. James Ross and A. J. Snowberger were well known as a blacksmith and a butcher, respectively.
Hopewell was incorporated as a borough in 1895. By that time it boasted two hotels (Hopewell House and Charles House), an opera house, a jail, and assorted other businesses and buildings. It continued to grow and thrive until Thanksgiving morning in 1931. On that day, a fire swept through much of the town, destroying most of the businesses and many of the homes. The fire, which began about 4 a.m. in the Hopewell Hotel, spread quickly with the brisk wind. Hopewell has not regained the prominence it had before this tragic event.
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