From the still-active AK Steel Ashland Works to cement companies, everything that I recalled or explored in the past that provided my original inspiration for this site is being demolished or restored. Granted that in the ten years that this site has been online, things are bound to change, but the speed and manner that it is being done is quite startling.

Some of these once industrial mammoths, that once employed thousands in the region, are not being replaced with anything of value. A shopping center replaced a coke plant near Portsmouth, Ohio. Vacant lots and junk yards replaced an iron foundry in Ironton, Ohio. And polluted, deserted lots replaced the world’s largest hot strip in Ashland, Kentucky.

Maybe one day, we can regain our status as an industrial powerhouse.


AK Steel Ashland Works

I grew up in the shadow of AK Steel Ashland Works (then Armco Steel). My father still works at the mill, a shadow of its former self. Located along the Ohio River in Ashland, Kentucky, this near-700-acre facility contains a coke plant, one blast furnace, a basic oxygen furnace, and other production facilities. Of interest is the abandoned blast furnace and hot strip, both of which are being demolished after years of disuse.

Before the Bellefonte and Amanda, there was the Ashland Furnace. When it was dismantled in 1962, it was the oldest remaining pig-iron furnace in the world. What replaced it was the Amanda Furnace, completed in 1963 with a mammoth 30.6 foot wide hearth. The Amanda was the world’s largest pig-iron blast furnace and routinely broke records for steel output.

Bellefonte Furnace, completed in 1942, produced 1,000/tons of steel per day. Its was the 96th blast furnace constructed in the Hanging Rock region since the first pig-iron furnace was constructed in 1818. The furnace was idled in 1996.


Ironton, Ohio High School

Ironton High School, constructed in 1922, boasted a two-tiered auditorium, greenhouse, indoor swimming pool, gymnasium, cafeteria and library.

Facing mounting maintenance issues and an aging building that required renovation, the Ironton school board requested renovations of the high school in July 2001. The majority of Ironton voted in mid-2007 for a new building instead of renovations and passed a levy for construction. The building was vacated on May 27 and asbestos abatement began in August. Bids were opened on September 25 for selective demolition of the school, and razing of the old high school began in November.

The new school will open in February 2010.


Alpha Portland Cement Company

Cement silos adorn the former Alpha Portland Cement Company. Once producing cement for bridges, roadways and buildings, it offered the residents of the nearby towns a chance for quality, high paying jobs.


Marquette Cement Company

I recalled coming out to the Marquette Cement Company when I first received my drivers license at age 18. Laboratories, multi-story rock crushers, scales, bag houses, rooms full of documents and a dozen buildings remained – although all of that is now gone.


Selby Shoe Company

The Selby Shoe Company opened along South Third Street in Ironton, Ohio in 1926. The facility was purchased in 1943 by the Wilson Athletic Goods Mfg. Co.