From about 1830 to 1900, the Hanging Rock Iron Region (HRIR) produced the majority of iron within the United States. The iron of the region was excavated rather than mined, and the hills were rich with hardwoods. Numerous small furnace sites sprung up throughout the region, employing a few hundred men each. Most operated for years on the verge of bankruptcy, due to numerous factors, including high transportation costs, mismanagement, and lack of scale. High in sulfer content, the yield on HRIR ore was low usually in the 35-50% range. By 1870, iron from the Mesawabi region (Lake Superior) was yielding 65% iron, with significantly reduced transportation costs - by water to Erie, and by rail to the massive operations founded by Andrew Carnegie. While the industry took some time to die out, by the early 1900's, the furnaces were blown out, and the once vibrant towns surrounding them shrunk into oblivion. Today, only the stone stacks remain, crumbling in the hills of Southern Ohio and northern Kentucky.

Several furnaces existed in the HRIR region prior to 1826, but this is generally considered the year when the Ironton and Hanging Rock ores were identified, sparking a major frenzy of activity in the region. The initial finders were Hamilton, Andrew Ellison, Archibald Paull, Andrew Dempsey, and Mr. Rogers. Thomas Means father, General McArthur, and Thomas James were also three primary business men in Adams county. These businessmen started the HRIR era.

Some sites of specific interest:

Iron Furnace Sites

For sites that I have not yet visited, I have included a link to websites containing information about the noted site(s).

United States

Hanging Rock Iron Region (HRIR)

Ohio - Visited Sites

Sites not Visited or No Longer Standing


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