Archived Story

We can make Ironton a destination

Published 12:00am Sunday, February 5, 2012

Not that he has an attitude problem, but Steve Call likes telling people where they can go.

Now, the man often called the “Travel Professor,” is instead focusing on how to bring people here.

Most people are familiar with the Ohio University Southern travel and tourism teacher who offers tips and advice on vacation hot spots and the best ways to get there.

But Call is also one of the driving forces of an ongoing project to create a walking tour of the City of Ironton and its historic residential district.

The goal is to create a tourist destination and help visitors get the most out of their trip to Ironton.

“The idea is to just get something out there and drive people into town,” he said. “… We want people to be able to see the history, support the local merchants and restaurants, enjoy what Ironton In Bloom has done in the summer and more.”

Although still only in the planning stages, Call has the right idea to address the massively under-utilized potential of Ironton and Lawrence County as a tourist destination.

There are towns all across America that have less to offer but see far more benefit. That simply comes down to the fact that Ironton has never really had a good plan in place and has done little to play to its strengths.

Call plans to work with his colleague, Dr. Dave Lucas, who recently partnered with Chesapeake High School students to create part of a tour, and other community groups to make this happen.

Essentially visitors could use an interactive map that offers photographs, narratives and information about each location.

This would give people the ability to access the information at their convenience and learn about some of the things that makes our region special.

Other tours could be added to feature topics like the Ironton-Lawrence County Memorial Day Parade route, Woodland Cemetery, the annual church walk or Lake Vesuvius.

Far too often the naysayers in our community want to shoot down the idea that people will come to Ironton if they are given a reason.

“I have often called it the ‘we ain’t got nothing mentality,’” Call said. “I think there needs to be some attitude adjustments and education to point out what we do have.”

Ironton has a lot. And it is time we use 21st Century technology to let everyone know about it.


Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Tribune. To reach him, call (740) 532-1445 ext. 24 or by e-mail at


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  • tiger534

    Good point Poor Richard Mr. Call and Mr. Lucas are prime examples of those that make good here and yes Lawrence County has lots to offer to those that would just take advantage of the area resources like lake V and Wayne Nat/t forest and many other attractions close-by.

    (Report comment)

  • Poor Richard

    I agree and Mr. Call and Mr. Lucas are good champions of this cause but their are others too – what about the history professor!

    I’ve met alot of visitors to Lawrence County over the years, mostly on trails at the Wayne National Forest but other places as well. Those visiting the Wayne had the idea or perception that their vehicles would not be safe parked at the trail heads and that crazy hillbillies would chase them down and hurt them — not too far from the truth maybe depending on where in the county a visitor might be. The crazies need to be sent packing.

    Other cities and towns across the country have the same difficulties as Ironton and Lawrence County. Some towns train people that work at gas stations, eateries, and places visitors might stop. They teach them how to be polite and point folks in the right direction. They arm them with maps and brochures, make sure they know where the sites are located and teach a little bit of history. Very effective when a visitor steps out of their car and is met by a friendly towns person that knows where all the great places are located!

    Several years ago, Adams County left brochures in Ironton and my family picked one up. It was a very simple brochure but had a route to many different shops in Adams County. We took a day trip and followed the map to the shops. It was kind of funny since there was a caravan of other visitors doing the same thing. Very effective. We take for granted that we know where everything is in our county.

    Visitors have many reasons for visiting a place. The Wayne National Forest is utilized extensively by groups like Outdoor Pursuits from Columbus Ohio, and the birding groups which are extensive around the state, the history buffs too enjoy the iron furnaces. Crown City Wildlife area is a big area for birders. The Amish that live in northern Lawrence and Gallia counties are growing and visitors enjoy their shops and farms.

    For my family, we are hugh garden buffs and travel extensively to look at public and private gardens. We enjoy farmland activities, low impact outdoor activities, camping, and museums (lg or small). We particularly focus on small towns and those businesses that make the town special and we will not eat at franchise restaurants or shop at big box stores. We think local and we buy local. Even some of the old travel motels are fixed up very nicely and are great places to stay. We like to drive into a town and feel the culture, learn about them and what makes them special, try their foods and specialties, look for area artists and community museums.

    Ironton, and particularly Lawrence County have so, so, much more to offer than polluting industry that every resident should be able to participate and make a living in some way, whether renting mountain bikes or providing tours for gardens or handling events and festivals.

    Good luck, Ironton, I wish you much success!

    (Report comment)

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