If you are ever in the area of Zaleski State Forest or Lake Hope, located approximately thirty minutes outside of Athens, Ohio, I would like to encourage you to make a stop by Hope Iron Furnace. It is an interesting piece of history.
As the sign notes, it is one of sixty nine charcoal iron furnaces in the Hanging Rock Iron Region.
HOPE FURNACE is the charcoal iron furnace located on the Lake Hope State Park at the head of Lake Hope at the side of State Highway 278. This is the trailhead for hiking trails on the Zaleski State Forest.
The stone stack had a pear shaped interior into which the ingredients were dropped from a charging floor above through a trap door according to the foundryman’s judgement. Statistics of the Hope Furnace are given in an 1870 GEOLOGICAL SURVEY OF OHIO. Production was 15 tons of cast iron per day and in 1870 the furnace produced 2,827 tons of foundry iron. The raw materials were iron ore, roasted to remove some the impurities, 1,150 to 1,225 pounds; 70 pounds of limestone; and 35 bushels of charcoal. The charcoal was produced from trees on the nearby forest. Ore from the vicinity was unsatisfactory, so they brought ore from the Vinton Furnace Tract via the Big Sand Railroad — the roadbed which is now under the waters of Lake Hope. Added was 70 pounds of limestone to complete the chemical reaction when heated to 950 degrees by the blast. The primitive stone furnaces were built against a bluff the height of the stack so that a bridge could be used to wheel the various components from the large storage shed to the trap door.
In an engine house, a steam engine produced the power for the BLOWING TUBS which produced the blast of air. A BOILER was above the furnace using the furnace gases to produce steam. Exhaust from the boiler passed through chambers to preheat the air for blast.
Throughout most of the 1800s, charcoal blast furnaces in the “hanging rock iron region” of southeastern Ohio became an important part of making Ohio an industrial state. The furnaces used hematite iron ore from that region in producing industrial iron. During the Civil War these furnaces became major producers of charcoal iron for weapons of the Union armed forces. Hecla Furnace in Lawrence County is reported to have cast the famous cannon, Swamp Angel, which was used in the siege of Charleston Harbor. And tradition has it that Jefferson Furnace in Jackson County produced the iron used to cover the famous Union gunboat, Monitor.
(Above info source: http://www.oldeforester.com/Hope.htm)
A video on the history of Hanging Rock Iron Region can be found here:
A few more photos I took from the stop today:
Close to the Iron Furnace was a beautiful pathway that was manicured specific to the needs of local pollinators.
Again, if you are in the area and can make the stop, it is a nice state park, plenty of trails and offers up a glimpse into the industrial history of Ohio.