LaGrange Furnace shadow of former self

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 29, 2004

UPPER TOWNSHIP - No marker or sign designates the once proud historic spot. Only memories and the specter of past glories remain of LaGrange Furnace.

Nestled in a bend of Little Storms Creek along County Road 21 (Porter Gap Road), the large gray, moss-covered stones of the old iron furnace stack stand as a silent monument to what once was.

Built in 1836 by Gould & Company, the charcoal furnace once produced seven tons of iron per day as part of a booming industry. It was a time when Ironton was the called the iron capital of the United States.

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The stack that has fallen into a state of disrepair still stand nearly 25 feet tall but is dwarfed by the towering oak tree that looms overhead. A cast-iron pot hangs over a fire pit, signs that the clearing is still used by some.

Only the power lines overhead are a clear marker that dates the structure and surrounding area.

"Anything resembling iron on or around the furnace has been removed long ago," said Amos Hawkins, former Ironton resident and furnace historian.

The numerous building that were a part of the furnaces including a school, a church, the company store and a cemetery were likely located nearby, Hawkins said. The cemetery remains.

"Above and immediately behind the furnace was where the stockyards, storage sheds and the charging house were," Hawkins said.

"In front of the furnace was the casting house. This was where all iron was poured into some kind of mould. On weekends, the moulds were generally for pig iron. Half of the casting house floor was used to pour the slag on and then broken up and hauled off to a dump spot.

"To the left of the furnace was probably where the engine room was located. This housed the steam engine and the air pump that pumped the blast for the furnace."

The furnace sits on private property. Owner Glenn Holmes was unable to be contacted for this story.