Olive Furnace was built near Olive Creek in 1846 & financed by John Peters, John Campbell (the founder of Ironton, OH), Madison Cole, William Clements, & J.L. Thompson. The furnace provided iron for steel manufacturing during the Civil War & for steel manufacturers in Northern Ohio & other places around the country.
The furnace, coal mines, & the surrounding town (sometimes called Mount Olive) were on 3,600 acres of land that were purchased by the furnace owners. Most of the early roads in the township were built & maintained by the furnace company. Besides the buildings at the furnace, the town also had a blacksmith shop, carpenter shop, company store, church, & a school, as well as a few dozen houses for the workers. The closest railroad station was about 1/2 mile southwest of town on the Cincinnati, Hamilton, & Dayton Railway. The furnace began operation in 1847 & produced an average of nearly 4,000 tons of iron every year until production stopped in 1910. Farming was also a local source of income.
In 1915 the furnace was sold for scrap iron & a lot of it was destroyed. The Olive Furnace post office ran from 1857 – 1915. Now the land is owned by the Mt. Olive Furnace Park Corporation which is accepting donations with plans to reconstruct the furnace. The Mount Olive Community Baptist Church still stands across the road from the remains of the furnace & the Olive Furnace Cemetery is up a hill behind the furnace.
Above photo is from Sally Neely dated 1914 – 4 years after it shut down
Historical Marker dedication – October 15, 2017
HUGE thank you to the Lawrence County Museum & Historical Society, the Lawrence County Commissioners and the Ohio History Connection!
Olive Furnace in Lawrence county was built and owned by those very prominent iron masters: John Campbell and John Peters in 1846. F.E. Duduit here took his primary lesson in iron making and was soon promoted to manager in chief. He is spending the evening of his life quietly at Portsmouth, Ohio In construction and surroundings. Olive is so similar to the charcoal furnaces heretofore described as to render details unnecessary. Nearly all the charcoal furnaces of a half a century ago have passed away and will be known to posterity only through tradition. Olive is one of the very few survivors. It still makes a small blast nearly every year producing iron of such excellent quality as to render it a specialty in the market.
W.N. McGugin who has for years lived at Olive as sole owner manager of the property, is a most character. Coming to the Rock field when young, he became in the iron business and many years had passed he became prominent in iron circles and for years has been a recognized leader an authority on iron subjects. A man culture and refinement and great he has ever been strictly in all his habits and it is not to find him at nearly ninety preserved physically and in full of youthful vigor mentally every faculty unimpaired. Some years since one of the iron concerns in the country became embarrassed and had to into liquidation and it became to find a brainy man of large to act as receiver or assignee to up the immense business and the was tendered to Mr McGugin who and the sequel showed him be the right man in the right place.
Source: “The Iron Trade Review.” Volume 39, Issue 2. July 19, 1906.
Mt. Olive Furnace History
for more information and pictures, click HERE
How It Worked
Olive Furnace Restoration
Below are pictures of the clean up project thus far….stay tuned!
ARTICLES MENTIONING OLIVE FURNACE
Morning Irontonian, November 18, 1915 – OLD OLIVE FURNACE SOLD. – Salle Bros., have bought of Mr. E. Beman, receiver for the Olive Furnace the old furnace and will begin in a few days to dismantle it for scrap iron.
Underground Railroad conductor James Ditcher was interviewed by the Ironton Register on October 31, 1878:”From 1855 to 1860,” says he, “I was largely connected with the underground railway. I must have taken through nearly 300 slaves in that time. The route we’d take was to Olive Furnace, or to Squire Stewart’s in Symmes Township, then over to Noah Nooks at Berlin cross roads, and from there to Wilkesville, in Vinton County. I would take them from Ironton to Olive or Symmes, and then there would be another fellow who would take them to the next station.”
The full interview can be read HERE.
Excerpt from “The Friend: A Religious and Literary Journal,” Volume 29. 1856.