Etna Furnace Articles


Submitted by Sharon M. Kouns


·         1851 – Etna House and Washington House were built for Etna Furnace company in 1851.  IR Aug. 1884.

·         [source obit of Geo. Willard IR Apr. 14, 1898] … he headed the great Etna enterprise, a scheme that was skillfully arranged, and which contained all the elements of success, but just as it was ready to take part in the iron production, the panic of 1873 [Cooke Panic] came on and the iron business collapsed.  Though it finally proved disastrous, had the conditions of the iron market been maintained, it would have been one of the leading iron enterprises of the country….

·         IR Mar. 20, 1873 – Building Contracts. – The 103 houses now building on Etna Iron Works lands are distributed among the following contractors: J. P. Shipton, 30, John T. Higgins, 15, A. T. Brattin, 11, E. M. Sanders 10, Wm. Nolty [sic] 10, Fred Schanzel 10, Bingman and Miner 5, Richard Snead 10, Smith & Hall 2.  All of these houses except three will be small frames – the three will be large enough to be used for boarding houses.

·         IR Jul. 17, 1873 – The Etna Iron Works hotel will be ready for occupancy in about two weeks.

·         IR Apr. 30, 1874 – Wm. Darby the landlord of the Etna House was fined $50.00 for assault and battery on a female employee on Sat. night.

·         IR Sept. 16, 1875 – Etna Works. – The new Etna furnace blew in last Monday morning, in the presence of a throng of spectators.  … At night, the first run of iron was made, about 8 tons being the result.  The quality of the metal was very fine for the first cast.  The next morning about 16 tons more were made, of improved quality….The successful start of this immense furnace is an epoch in the history of Ironton, and all the people are delighted with the suspicious omens.

·         IR Nov. 4 1886 – Burned Down. – The Etna house near Alice furnace was destroyed by fire, last Friday night, at about ten o’clock.  The fire caught from a stove.  There were seven families living in the house, but they managed to get out all their property.  … The Etna house was built when big Etna furnace was erected, and was used as a boarding house at first, and afterward as a tenement house.  It was insured for $3,000.  It is the purpose of the company to put up some smaller houses to accommodate their employes.

·         IR June 9, 1887 – At Alice furnace the new engine is running finely, and one of the old engines has been dismantled to be overhauled.  The remaining engine will be treated in like manner.  The outer walls of the stock house are being rebuilt of wood, and iron roofs to cover the stock house and boiler house have been ordered from Pittsburg.

·         IR June 7, 1888 – W. B. G. Hatcher is making a topographical survey of the Etna Iron Co.’s lands.  It will take all summer.

·         IRDec.6,1888 – BIG ETNA – BLANCHE STACK IN BLAST, AND OTHER NOTES -When the mammoth furnace of the Etna Iron Works at the upper end of town, was erected in 1872, only one of the twin stacks was completed.  The Alice stack was finished, but Blanche was left un-lined and incomplete – a mere iron tube of ponderous size, with the bridge constructed at the top, and the flue connections, &c., arranged for. – Blanche has now been lined, and workmen are filling the new furnace with stock preparatory to putting on the blast today or tomorrow.  The work of lining has been going on for months.  It has cost about $23,000, including all necessary changes and additions, and over 400,000 brick, including red and fire brick, have been used.  Meanwhile, Alice has been blown out and the engines and Whitwell ovens used for that furnace have been connected with Blanche.  These changes were practically made some weeks ago, but the starting of the furnace was delayed by the river water rising in the well hole, so it was not possible to reach the pumps until last week.

·         IR Nov. 21, 1889 – Appointed.  – The Common Pleas Court of Hamilton County have appointed John Campbell, John Peters and Cyrus Ellison to appraise the property of the Etna Iron Works.   These are splendid selections.  They are gentlemen of experience and capacity and will faithfully attend to their important duties.

·         IR June 4, 1891 – The sale of Etna works has not been confirmed, but there seems to be no doubt but the Court will favorably act in a few days.

·         IR Jan. 23, 1896 – Etna. – The ovens are about half torn away and work was begun yesterday tearing out the lining of Alice stack.  Mr. Bird calculates having all the old structures cleared away ready for the contractor, by the first of February.  The ovens have been removed carefully so as to be put up again at the Iron & Steel furnace if it is found desirable.

·         IR Sept. 23, 1897 – Etna Furnace Sold. – Next Saturday at 10 a.m., the bit Etna furnace, in Ironton, will be offered at public sale, on the premises, by the trustess, Messrs. Lee and Clark, both of whom are expected to arrive here Friday evening.  Mr. Hart a prominent stockholder, is also expected. The notice of the sale is printed in full on the seventh page of this issue.  The bondholders are likely to buy in the property. – In this connection, we may suggest to the purchasers, why not make an effort to dispose of this splendid property to the government for an armor plate factory?  The government proposes to establish such a plant.  This property would suit.  The location is the very best.  No better place could be selected for a ship armor establishment.  The comination of coal and ore is cheap here.  We are on railroad and river transportation direct to the ocean.  We have the best metal in the world for cannon.  Ohio should be favored with this plant, and Ironton is the spot.  The people of this city will second every effort of the purchasers in securing the plant here.

·         IR Mar. 16?, 1899 – R. M. Gilbert, one of the new Etna furnace directors is one of the Executive Committee of the National Steel Co., the big trust with a capital of $59,000,000.

·         PHLC – pict. of Etna Fce, Ironton, built in 1872 by Etna Iron Works.  The largest fce. in the world until 1900.


Ironton, Ohio Thursday, March 24,1887

Fire at Etna

But the Furnace Keeps Going

Submitted by Diane Sparling

On Wednesday evening of last week, the big brick stock house, at Etna furnace, a mile above town was destroyed by fire. The fire started about 7 o’clock, in the engine house of the hoist.  The workmen were getting ready to start the furnace, after a rest of a couple weeks, and the blast was to be put on the next morning,  The cross head of the engine had been broken, and an employee started to the blacksmith shop to get it fixed leaving the lamp burning.  Before he returned, the lamp exploded or upset, in some way, when the greasy floor quickly ignited, and soon the flames were creeping to the roof.  It was impossible to stop them.  A slight wind through the stock house helped the fire onward. It was easily seen that nothing could save the stock house, and so every effort was made to protect the hoist and engine.  These were successful, but the stock house went, leaving nothing but some ragged and tottering walls.  The roof of the stock house was slate, but it went about as fast as if it were shingle.

             In the stock house, was a lot of ore, coal and coke.  Of course the ore was safe; most of the coke was saved, but the coal was consumed in the flames.. The entire loss of material in the stock house foots up about  $1,700.

             As for the stock house, that was a stupendous structure, more costly than necessary, and which is no serious loss, as a stock house to cost about $3,000 will take its place, and to answer every purpose.  Such a house is to be put up immediately, to be the size and on the place of the old stock house. So the absolute loss will be less than $5,000, There was no insurance.  The furnace itself was not injured and is again in blast, doing as well as ever. 

             Mr. Pluemer was on his way here from Cincinnati, when the fire occurred, and learned of the disaster at Portsmouth.  With his usual zeal, he has arrangements perfected to have the furnace go right along with its work.