Keystone Sign Keystone Furnace Tunnel Entrance Tunnel Wall
Keystone Sign Keystone Furnace Tunnel Entrance Tunnel Wall
Behind the Stack Vent Hole 1 Tunnel Exit Closeup of Stack
Behind the Stack Vent Hole 1 Tunnel Exit Closeup of Stack


Keystone Furnace is on PRIVATE property. The owner lives just east of the furnace site -take the road to the first driveway on the left. She will generally give access as long as you don't intend to cause any damage and agree to pick up any trash you find on the site. She is very partial to her snakes, so don't hurt any of them as you head up the driveway.

The dates on the furnace sign are NOT believed to be correct based upon information from Richard Leive. It is probable that the furnace construction started in 1830, as indicated, but the furnace appears to have started operation in 1849.

March 2003 Update - My own research supports this fact - see the history section below. It would appear that the 1830 date is not even accurate for the initial construction.

Keystone Furnace is one of my favorite furnaces, primarily due to its construction. The outer wall was carved out of a sandstone hill, while the inner stack was made from stone. There is a passageway on the left hand side of the furnace that can be entered - it leads behind the stack, then further back into the hill. Be careful to watch for copperheads - you will need a lantern or powerfull flashlight to navigate the tunnel.

I visited the stack in the summer and the foilage was very dense. I was unable to navigate to the top of the stack, or explore the surrounding land. It would be quite interesting to visit this site again during the early spring. There may be remains of the engine house or other structures.

First Visit: 2Q-2001

Last Visit: 4Q-2001


Start of Operation: 1848

Blowout: 1885

Daily Tonnage: 12, later increased to 24

Built By: Keystone Furnace was built by John Campbell, S, McConnell, & Others

Stack: 33 feet, later increased to 36 (Lesley reports 35 feet w/10 foot bosh)

Blast: Hot

Type: Charcoal

Eugene Willard gives a start date of 1849.

The following information was obtained from Robert Ervin.

Keystone was built in 1846-47 and went into blast during 1848. The furnace was named for a large riverboat on the Ohio River that was owned by the proprietors of the furnace. The stack was hewn from solid sandstone and had a capacity of 12 tons.

A.F. and P.M. McCarley attempted to float iron down the Raccoon Creek to the river. The boats were shallow bottom craft measuring 60-85 feet long and 16-20 feet wide. The average weight was 55 tons and each boat had a crew of four.

In 1853, the furnace was purchased by Green, Benner, Campbell & Company of Portsmouth, Ohio. They doubled the capacity of the furnace to 24 tons. In 1861, the owners shut down the furnace to form the 27th Ohio Volunteer Infantry and participated in the American Civil War. (Webmaster note: If any Civil War buffs know anything about the actions of this group during the war, please let me know.) In 1863 the furnace resumed operations. The furnace was purchased by Hezekiah Sanford Bundy in 1871.

According to records, the furnace paid $0.25-$1.05/cord of wood. They purchased iron at $4.50/ton (from furnace land), and $5.00/ton from local farmers. An average pig weighed 150 pounds and sold for $13/ton. However, during the war, iron prices soared to as much as $60/ton.

Nicholas Bishop was the first man to drive a team of oxen rather than mules to haul iron ore. He was killed by lightening while sheltering under a sugar maple during a storm. Other teamsters who worked at Keystone Furnace were:

The Keystone school house was built in 1846 by Samuel Lews and Henry Huntley. In 1867 the original building was replaced by a brick structure that cost $1700. The furnace contributed $400 of this expense. The lower portion of the building was a church, while the second story was used as the schoolhouse.

In 1855 Samuel Benner became the first postmaster. The postmaster's office later became part of the company store (1870). The building had twelve rooms and was valued at $5000. Other storekeepers/postmasters were:

For many years, the Keystone Furnace was famous for holding an annual bean dinner.

Per J.P. Lesley, the fn was owned by E.B. Greene & Co, of Portsmouth. The fn was managed by M. Churchill. in 1856 the fn produced 2,407 tons of hot and cold blast iron out of limestone ore from horizontal coal measures within four miles west of the fn.


Take RT 93 South from Jackson Ohio. Turn left onto Pattonsville Road, take it until it dead ends at Keystone Furnace Road. Turn left and cross the iron bridge, the furnace will be on your left just after the bridge. Remember to get permission from the property owner before going on the property - continue up the road to the first driveway on the left.

GPS - N39 00.652 W82 27.107 @782 feet

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