The Hanging Rock region of southern Ohio and Kentucky produced a significant amount of iron in the United States for mills in the manufacture of steel. Skip to: Hanging Rock – Southern Ohio and Kentucky.

Hanging Rock – Southern Ohio

Between the 1830’s and the early 1900’s, the Hanging Rock region of southern Ohio produced a significant amount of iron in the United States. There were numerous furnaces in the region, generally east of Portsmouth, south of Jackson and north of Ironton, and employed several hundred at each site. Unfortunately, the iron extracted were generally high in sulfur content and in general, the furnaces were not that profitable.

Buckeye Furnace

Buckeye Furnace was constructed in 1851 several miles north of Keystone and east of Wellston.1 The furnace was financed by Newkirk, Daniels & Company and constructed by Thomas Price 3 shortly before the XXXX railroad was completed into Jackson County, and when it was finished, several hundred tons of iron had been hauled to Jackson to await the first train. In 1862, the furnace was sold to H.S. Bundy, the Perry Austin & Company in 1864 and to the Buckeye  Furnace Company in 1867.1 The Buckeye Furnace Company was operated by Eben Jones, John D. Davis, L.T. Hughes and Dr. S. Williams.

The furnace initially produced 7.5 tons of iron per day and operated 42 weeks out of the year.3 The stack was later raised to 34-feet with a 11-foot bosh which increased the output to 12 tons of iron per day.

The Buckeye Furnace operated until 1894.3


Buckhorn Furnace

Buckhorn Furnace was constructed by the Seeley Willard and Company in 1833/1836, and had a capacity of 15 tons per day.

Cambria Furnace

Cambria Furnace is located east of Samsonville (Blackfork Station) in southern Jackson County. The furnace was organized on March 1, 1854 with an initial capital of $60,000, with shares at $120 with 60 stockholders, all Welshmen.1 Some farmers donated land to pay for their shares, and were given $15 per acre of land.4 D. Lewis & Company operated Cambria.1

The furnace produced seven to eight tons of iron per day.4 The stack was 30.5-feet high with a 10.5-foot bosh.

Cambria was not successful. It had been weakened by the Panic of 1857 and the operator did not capitalize on the high iron prices of the Civil War. The last blast was in 1878.1

Franklin Furnace

Franklin Furnace was located on Lot 21 of the French Grant in Green Township of Scioto County.2 It was constructed from 1826 to 1827 with a 28-foot-high stack with a 9.5-foot bosh 5 by Daniel and John Young, Jesse Y. Whitcomb, Josiah Merrill, John Hurd and Martin Ruter, all from New Hampshire.2 Daniel Young had formed the Ohio Iron Company a few years earlier to operate their iron business, and about four years after beginning operations, it was sold to John Young and Van Horn.

A community of 350 developed around Franklin Furnace; most homes were log cabins, and the town included stores, a blacksmith shop, church and school.2

By 1832, Franklin was producing ten tons of iron daily, and was converted to hot blast in 1836.2 During that year, the furnace buildings were burned down and rebuilt shortly afterwards. It was then sold to A.J. Rogers and Company, who sold out to Jefferson W. Glidden and John Blair in 1841. The Portsmouth Tribune of July 8, 1842 noted that Glidden had purchased John Blair’s interest in the furnace and became its sole owner.

John Gould and Jesse and Jacob Hurd were the next to own the furnace.2 Because of domestic relations, John Gould purchased the furnace outright. His brother, Orin B. Gould, Sr., had a minor interest in the furnace at that time.

During the Mexican War, John Gould made a fortune from the furnace and turned over his interest in the property to Orin in 1850 who operated it until 1860 when it was blown out.2

During Franklin’s run, approximately 50,000 to 60,000 tons of pig iron, worth $1.5 million, was produced.2 At its peak, three steamboats were kept busy hauling the pig iron from the Franklin and Junior Furnaces to Portsmouth where most of it was used in the rolling mill and foundries, and some were shipped by the Erie Canal to northern and eastern markets.

Sandstone blocks from the furnace were removed by Charles Goddard in 1888. Goddard, superintendent of Ohio’s public works, used the rocks to repair the Erie Canal Locks at Three Locks.2 Only a few stones were left remaining and used as foundation for a schoolhouse that was later built on the furnace site.

Iron Valley/Lincoln/Cornelia Furnace

The Iron Valley Furnace was located east of Jackson at the Vinton County border, and was constructed in 1853 out of natural crack on a stone cliff.6 The furnace, with a 38-foot-high stack with a 11-foot bosh, had a capacity of 12 tons per day.

In 1858, Iron Valley was sold to the Iron Valley Furnace Company and then leased to William McGhee and William Ratcliff in 1961.6 McGhee bought out Ratcliff two years later and changed the name of the furnace to Lincoln. It was later changed to Cornelia in honor of McGhee’s only daughter.

Cornelia Furnace closed in 1885.6

Jackson Furnace

Jackson Furnace was constructed in 1836 by J. Hurd, Young and others 7 near the southern border of Jackson County.1 Jackson featured a 40-foot-tall stack with a 9.5-foot bosh,7 and featured the first steam engine in the county.1 Due to the Panic of 1837, the owners were forced to sell out to Ellison, Tewksberry & Company who operated it until 1874.

Keystone Furnace

Keystone Furnace was constructed in 1848 on the Little Raccoon south of Jackson with funding from several Scioto and Lawrence capitalists,1 including John Campbell and S. McConnel and named for a large riverboat on the Ohio River that was owned by the proprietors.7 The furnace was built by John McConnell & Company 1 and featured a 33-foot stack with a 10-foot bosh, and produced 12 tons of iron per day.7

Early on, A.F. and P.M. McCarley made attempts to float finished product down the Raccoon Creek to the Ohio River with boats that measured 60- to 85-feet by 16- to 20-feet, each hauling 55 tons with a crew of four.7

Keystone furnace was succeeded by the Green Benner & Company in 1853,1 who enlarged the stack to 36-feet and increased its daily production tonnage to 24.7 The furnace was closed between 1861 and 1863 as the owners elected to form the 27th Ohio Volunteer Infantry and participated in the Civil War. Keystone was purchased Hezekiah Sanford Bundy in 1871. The furnace closed in 1885.

Jefferson Furnace

The original capital for the Jefferson Furnace was $60,000.1 Jefferson had a two ton capacity. Iron was hauled to Oak Hill on a railroad about 2.5 miles east of the furnace.

Latrobe Furnace

Latrobe Furnace was the sixth furnace constructed in the region and was organized in 1854 with $60,000 in stock.1 Named for a Frenchman and constructed by Welshmen, Latrobe was built six miles east of Kackson on the proposed Cincinnati and Hillsboro Railroad which was never completed.

Limestone Furnace

Limestone Furnace was located a few miles north of Madison on the Grassy Fork of Symmes Creek.1 A few stockholders were Welshmen and the furnace was constructed in 1854 by Evans, Walterhouse & Company. Riley Corn, a wealthy farmer, bought out a number of the stockholders in 1856, but Limestone closed within a few years.

Madison Furnace

Madison Furnace was built along the Grassy Fork of Symmes Creek in Madison Township in 1854 by John P. Terry, John Peters and others.1 The furnace later passed to the E.D. Ricker & Company, Peter Clare & Company and Clare, Duduit and Company, all controlled by J.D. Clare. The mine was served by a branch of the Cincinnati, Hamilton and Dayton Railroad, and hauled its iron to Clay on the Portsmouth Branch when it made its first shipment in July 1854.

The Madison Furnace operated for 50 years.

Monroe Furnace

Monroe Furnace was constructed in 1854 and owned by John Campbell, and John and Isaac Peters. The Peters brothers sold their interest in 1866. William M. Bolles and others became active in the management afterwards.1

Monroe Furnace closed in the 1880s.

Oak Ridge Furnace

The Oak Ridge Furnace was constructed from 1856 to August 1857, and originally used charcoal as the primary source of fuel.9 It was converted to run on coal in May 1858 and closed soon after. It had a 44-foot stack with a 11-foot bosh, and produced 15 tons of iron per day.

Olive Furnace

Olive Furnace was constructed by John Campbell and John Peters in 1846, and had a 37-foot stack with a 9-foot bosh.10 It produced 16 tons of iron per day at its peak.

Orange Furnace

Orange Furnace was proposed by Peter Pickrel, Lewis Davis, David D. Dungan and Alanson Robbins in 1853, but was not completed until 1864.1

Salt Lick Furnace

Salt Lick Furnace was constructed in 1854 near Jackson and was owned by R.C. Hoffman, J.J. Hoffman, Alexander Gratton, Moses Sternberger, Patrick Murdock and the Stewart brothers.1 It was later renamed to Gideon and then Diamond. Smith, Tod & Company became owners in 1864.

Salt Lick was the first furnace to use stone coal for fuel.1

Vesuvius Furnace

Vesuvius Furnace

Vesuvius Furnace was constructed in 1836 by William Firmstone and was the first hot blast furnace in the southern Ohio region.

Young America Furnace

Young America Furnace was constructed in Lick Township in 1856, and was headed by James H. Miller.1 The furnace was not a success and was out of blast by 1860. Some of its machinery was used in the completion of Orange Furnace in Jackson.


Fitchburg Furnace

Fitchburg Furnace

Fitchburg Furnace, also known as the Red River Furnace, was constructed in 1869.

Slate Furnace

Slate Furnace

Slate Furnace was located south of Owingsville, Kentucky along what is today’s State Route 36. It was the first of its kind west of the Allegheny Mountains.