Dream lives after death of leader

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 29, 2006

In 2002, Pedro resident Carl Malone put his love for the large iron furnaces that dot the county to the test.

Although he was wheelchair bound, he, along with former Aid Township resident Amos Hawkins, worked tirelessly to turn the Mount Olive Furnace near Malone’s home into a tourist destination.

They planned to install a park around the area, with picnic tables, restrooms and a souvenir shop. It was put forth as a furnace education center of sorts, with meeting rooms, classrooms and a bookkeeping section.

Email newsletter signup

Then, in the summer of 2005, Malone passed away before he could see the furnace’s rebirth come to fruition. However his dream did not die with him.

Hawkins and a team of volunteers have picked up the mantle without missing a step. He said that the thought of quitting never crossed his mind.

“We’re going ahead, we’re not stopping because of that,” Hawkins said from his Florida home.

Far from stopping, Hawkins visited the site in May, and he said that a lot of work had been done, like clearing away brush so the furnace can be seen from the road.

In fact, a few new discoveries have even been made at the site.

“We found where they made their charcoal, we found an area where the ore burners were, and we found where the blacksmith shop and company store were,” Hawkins said. “So we got quite a bit of work done in the month I was there.”

That being said, there’s still plenty to be done. Hawkins said that the biggest hurdle has been trying to find funding for the project.

“We want to reestablish some of the Roman arch, it’s got a big hole in it, and we’ve got to get that fixed before we can go further,” Hawkins said. “So we’ve been looking for grants for that.”

Not to be deterred, they’ll be attempting to spread the word at the Ironmaster Days celebration this weekend. They’re also looking for more personal funds, outside of grant sources.

Those who’d like to donate to the project can write to Brian Phillips, 16097 State Route 93, Pedro, Ohio, 45659. Checks should be payable to the Mount Olive Furnace Park Corporation.

Although they’re not expecting the donations to be huge, they’re not deterred. The Mount Olive Park will continue, even after its spearhead is gone. Which, Hawkins suspects, is exactly what Malone would have wanted.

“Oh yes,” Hawkins said with certainty. “We never would have thought of stopping after he passed away.”