SOME DATA REGARDING THE FURNACES OF THE HANGING ROCK IRON REGION
Compiled by Sharon M. Kouns
Last update: May 17, 1998
Ironton Register, Thursday, June 1, 1865 – The boundaries of the Hanging Rock iron region extend between the mouth of Kinnekanick, in Lewis County, Kentucky, to Ironton, Ohio, including Lawrence, Jackson, and part of Vinton, Scioto and Gallia Counties, Ohio, and Greenup, Boyd, Carter and Lewis Counties, Kentucky. There are over sixty blast furnaces in operation within this district of Cincinnati and Pittsburgh afford a market for the manufactured pig iron.
Ironton Register, February 03, 1870 – (Iron Intelligences) Workmen are busy at the Old Mill getting things ready for operation. Mr. John R. Williams manages matters. He is an iron worker of experience and knows exactly what to do in a rolling mill.
Ironton Journal, Jan. 18, 1871– Attention has just been called by Dr. Percey, an eminent metallurgist to the danger of using the waste gas from the blast furnaces. A principal ingredient of the gas, consists of carbonic oxide, which is sufficient to destroy life. The employment of the waste gas of blast furnaces for heating of steam boilers, etc., is extending daily and Dr. Percey fears that death from its inhalation, may be frequent unless those who use it are fully aware of it’s physiological action. Numerous cases of poisoning of this kind are already on record, one of which took place in Ironton last week. [Ironton Journal, Jan. 11, 1871 – One Randolph McDonald, from about Center Furnace, wandered intoxicated into Belfont Furnace last Monday night and was found yesterday morning near one of the gas conductors, dead. Jury was called and rendered the following verdict: “That we, do find the deceased, Randolph McDonald, came to his death by intemperance, exposure and inhaling gas escaping from the ground conductor at Belfont Furnace.”]
I.R. August 4, 1881 – There is some talk of putting post offices at some of the furnaces. Years ago, Olive and Mt. Vernon were post offices, the latter under the name of Campbell. W. N. McGugin was postmaster at Olive, and Robert Scott, at Mt. Vernon. They resigned and the post offices were discontinued during the war when Mr. Amlin was P.M. at Ironton. They agreed to have the offices discontinued and buy their stamps, &c., all at Ironton, if Mr. Amlin would put the mail on the cars daily. They thus got a daily mail and the Ironton P.O. did more business. Previous to (do not have end of this).
I.R. August 13, 1891 – THE LAND DEAL – The pending propositions for the sale of vast furnace properties in this and Jackson and Gallia counties, of which the REGISTER spoke last week, are still pending. No step in advance of last week’s situation has transpired. Mr. Clutts, the genial ambassador of the Syndicate, has however, received instructions from the principals to hold the propositions open and they, or some of them would be on this week, to close up the deal. They have not yet appeared, according to our latest accounts. It is explained that this is one of those off seasons, when men of money seek the soft allurements of the ocean beach or cool mountain summit, to gather anew those physical energies so necessary in the turmoil of trade and finance. It is highly possible that when a few more surfs are shot and a few more mountain zephyrs are inhaled that the capitalists will realize the importance of striking when the iron is hot.
Among the promises of this deal if it finally materializes, is the building of two large furnaces at Mt. Vernon and Gallia, a fire brick works at Texas Hollow and the opening and pushing of ore and coal mines all over the property, for which plans the lands are splendidly adapted. If the affair comes to a head at all, it is likely to do so in the next ten days.
Ironton Register, April 28, 1892 – Mr. W. H. Hawkins, the gentleman who owned the “old mill,” and sold it to the home company, was in town this week, hoping to make some arrangement for the disposal of the Ironton furnace. He offers some fair inducements but no conclusions were attained.
Ironton Register, March 03, 1870 – (Iron Intelligences) The fall in quotations at Cincinnati and Louisville, has of course weakened the market here, and a fall of two dollars per ton on foundry grades is necessary before sales can be made. The quantity of iron is decreasing rapidly, and continued bad weather prevents any considerable quantity from being brought from the furnaces. As yet there is no decline in mill irons, and as the Pittsburg market has opened quite firm, there is no fall anticipated here. …. A long article in the IRON AGE, shows the cost of stone coal at Youngstown to be about $31 per ton. We think we can beat that a little.
Ironton Register, March 31, 1870 – (Iron Intelligences) – The market for all kinds of iron is still declining slowly. Forced sales of large quantities, in different cities, have so weakened the market that good foundry iron can be bo’t for $40. At this point the furnacemen will insist upon it staying, and it is doubtful whether it can be forced lower. So few sales have been made that it is useless to give any quotations.
-The furnace managers throughout the county are engaged in putting in new hearts and repairing hot blasts.
-Several furnaces up the Hocking Valley Road are putting in firebrick hearths. They are said to work well, cost the same as a sandstone heart, and will do service for three or four years. They are made at the Sciotoville Firebrick Works, of any size.
-We learn that the question of wages attracts the attention of the Mill companies, and that any continued operation under the present rates is not probable, after the first of April.
-The tariff discussion in the House of Representatives, has improved the prospects of the bill offered by the commission.
-An extensive coal miner’s strike is anticipated in the Mahoning Valley. The coal operators have determined to reduce the wages or stop the works.
-The Indiana State Fair offers $100 premium for the best collection of pig metal produced in that state.
Ironton Register, January 30, 1879 – Col. Gray has returned from a trip to the West. He judges from general appearances and from conversation with men in the iron business, that trade will be much better the coming Spring and Summer, than for five years past. He observed a tone of hopefulness among the consumers of metal, and a disposition to talk, in regard to the supplies of metal on hand, the kind, quality, &c. at present prices in larger quantities than usual.
Ironton Register, November 19, 1885 – Of the iron furnaces in the United States, 437 are out of blast and 233 in blast. The weekly capacity of those in blast is 76,723 tons; of those out of blast, 96,252. So the capacity of our furnaces is 9,000,000 annually, and we are making at the rate of 4,000,000 tons.
Ironton Register, November 26, 1885 – (Iron News) – Every iron firm in this county is, at present, employing men and paying wages, except perhaps one, the Old Mill Co., but they have rented their furnace to a company that is paying wages.
Ironton Register, November 24, 1887 – It takes lots of corn to run a furnace. 12,500 bushels passed through Hecla cribs in eight months, from March 1 to November 1. Mr. Clark Henry was the crib tender and kept careful account of every pound.
Ironton Register, January 5, 1888
A GLANCE AT THE PAST YEAR
The Furnaces. – Never did the furnaces of this county make as much pig metal as they did in 1887. This is because the coke furnaces have been in blast a great portion of the time. The charcoal production was nearly an average, but seems quite small by the side of the coke iron output. There were 98,254 tons of metal made in the county in the year, and of this, only 12, 341 tons were charcoal; the rest coke or coal. We subjoin a list of the furnaces in this county and the tons of metal produced in the year:
IRON & STEEL 10,953
MT. VERNON 2,900
The last five are charcoal furnaces. The production of Hecla was only a five months’ run; the remainder of the year the furnace was idle. The Iron & Steel furnace was banked up 47 days, and so does not show a full product. The large output of the furnaces of the county indicate a general employment of labor and a large movement of material.
Ironton Register, March 3, 1887 – Sunday, April 3, is the time fixed now for widening the Narrow Gauge. This is, also, said to be reliable. Also same date: It is time to widen the Narrow Gauge. We heard a furnaceman remark that it was dangerous to ship pig iron over it.
Ironton Register, June 28, 1888 – We understand that the ore miners at Etna, Vesuvius, Lawrence, Bartles and Center Furnaces have gone out on a demand for $1.25 per ton for digging, and the enforcement of the law requiring semi-monthly pays. They have been getting various prices, ranging from 80 cents to $1.20 per ton, with the law enforced in some instances. A meeting of the miners is to be held this Wednesday afternoon, when the matter may be adjusted.
Ironton Register, April 28, 1892 – IRON. – The New York Mail thus speaks of the market: Stocks of pig iron in hands of mills and commission agents are unusually large and prices are at bottom, yet there is no business doing. A number of furnaces went out of blast during the past six weeks in eastern Pennsylvania and Ohio, but trade has not been appreciably bettered by it. Leading dealers here say that before July 1 many other furnaces will blow out, and that then there will be a better outlook for the stocks now held.
Semi-Weekly Irontonian, November 8, 1907 – It did not take very much money to erect one of the very early furnaces. The Hot Blast had not been invented. A small engine at the base of the stack, with boiler fired by stone coal, furnished the blast for one to two tons of the rich red outdrop ore and about 250 bushels charcoal. The latter was made next to the furnace, in clearing ground for houses and farming. Two ox-carts would haul all the fuel ore and limestone. These remarks apply to furnace conditions 75 to 80 years ago when Union, Pine Grove, Lawrence, Mt. Vernon , Hecla and Vesuvius Furnaces were built. After 1840 furnaces expanded, made more iron with Hot Blast, and lands costs more.
Morning Irontonian, November 18, 1915 – OLD OLIVE FURNACE SOLD. – Salle Bros., have bought of Mr. E. Beman, receiver for the Olive Furnace the old furnace and will begin in a few days to dismantle it for scrap iron.