Old cement factory spooky link to Ironton#039;s past
Published 12:00 am Monday, January 5, 2004
Growing up as young boy, it was impossible to overlook the imposing, crumbling structures sitting ominously along the side off U.S. 52 as we went to visit my grandparents in Franklin Furnace.
The old Alpha Portland Cement Plant closed in the mid-1960s, but it was the focal point of countless ghost stories and tales of terror in my own mind.
The site of The Dart's bullseye this week, a visit to this area, brought these memories crashing back as I was reminded of my first visit to this desolate part of Ironton.
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One cold fall day about a decade ago, a few friends and I felt adventurous and decided to go explore the plant that certainly looked like it belonged in a classic horror movie.
Needless to say, it was not near as scary as my imagination had built it up to be. Although it was decaying and littered with what could be called satanic graffiti, it was really just a group of old buildings.
But apparently the legend that it is haunted was not just in my own mind.
According to the Web site ohioexploration.com, the site is one of several places in the county that is haunted.
During the 1970s, the wall of the basement of the cement factory broke, flooding the basement and killing several people. Since that incident, the plant was closed for business. Several people have reported seeing the ghosts of those who died there, many of whose bodies were never recovered, according to this Web site.
How much truth there is to this story is hard to tell, but Dan Bolender, president of the Ice Creek Land Company, was not scared away by the ghost stories.
In fact, he built a home on the property and he now owns nearly 1,000 acres of land, including what remains of the cement plant.
"I don't pay attention to ghost stories," he said with a chuckle. "I don't believe in ghosts."
Bolender did some maintenance work on the plant years ago when it was owned by Getty Oil and later had the opportunity to tear some of the buildings down before he bought the land about 10 years ago.
"We tore down the big stack," he said. "It toppled like a tree."
Interesting stories that Bolender does believe include tales that there is still lots of mining equipment in the mines that run 600 feet beneath much of the property.
Most of the buildings are gone now and the rest may become a part of history sometime in the future.
Bolender has already sold nearly 500 acres of the land that will be used for residential development. He is also working on several projects that could utilize parts of the land for residential, commercial or light industrial use.
One big problem remains for Bolender - illegal dumping. He said it is a full-time job, and an expensive one at that, trying to stop the dumping. He just recently spent more than $1,000 cleaning up someone else's trash that was dropped on his land.
"I am determined to stop the dumping, stop the shooting, stop the drug dealing and just stop the general vandalism that has been going on out there for years," he said. "And I will do it too, with Sheriff Tim Sexton's help."
It is certainly encouraging to hear that this once desolate property will be developed. No matter what is built there, however, it can never erase the ghost stories that were created in a young boy's mind on those trip to grandma's.