History of the Ironton Rolling Mill
Judge John Davisson [Davidson], born in 1777, came to Ohio and about 1801 settled on a tract of land beginning with the south bank of Storms Creek, following the Ohio River south to a point where the DT&I depot now stands. He was one of the pioneers who cleared away the timber and farmed the lands on which the lower portion of Ironton now stands. He built his first log cabin about where the “old mill” [The Ironton Rolling Mill] used to stand. In 1812 he built a modern hewn log house, which stood where Buckhorn Street crosses 4th street. Being one of the most prosperous farmers in the neighborhood, in 1822 he built the first brick house ever erected in this part of the country. It stood just back of the present Excelsior Shoe Factory, fronting the river. It was occupied by his widow, Susanah Lambert, until her death in 1848 when the farm was sold to W. D. Kelly for a town site for Ironton.
Source: “Ironton Register” Sept. 27, 1888
In 1837, the river road ran along and near the riverbank from Hanging Rock to what has since become Ironton. Just below Storms Creek, it passed between the Baptist church, a log structure on the riverbank and a small graveyard.
The ground on which were located the church, road and cemetery has been taken away by the river. The present bridge was erected in 1854; of wood and iron work done by Uriah Evans of Gallia County. Photo of bridge below:
Note: Storms Creek was re-routed when the flood wall was built. It used to run below the 2nd Street overpass. Vesuvius Street (amid the ball field property) extended to present day 2nd street. The creek bed is still visible near the train tracks. See photo on left. Also note the location of the bridge pictured above.
The map on the left is the 1887 Historic Map Works map but with a Google Earth overlay, which gives us an excellent visual of what used to be here.
Ironton Rolling Mill site 2017 (Google Maps)
The old brick home near the Goldcamp flour mill was the farm house of John Davidson, and into that Mr. W.D. Kelly moved in August, 1848. Photo below shows the house [far left] and the Goldcamp Mill [white building on left]
It was W.D. Kelly’s intention, to buy all these farm purchases to have one splendid plantation, but about that time Dr. Briggs, John Campbell and others came to him with the Ohio Iron & Coal Co. project, and the Ironton scheme, and he sold the John Davidson and Lionbarger tracts to them at just double what he gave, and took stock in the Ohio Iron & Coal Co., and thus became one of the founders of Ironton.
Ironton was founded March 23, 1849. Soon after, John Campbell and associates began constructing the first industries in Ironton – The Ironton Rolling Mill and the Iron Railroad (a 13-mile stretch of rail that later became part of the DT&I).
The Ironton Rolling Mill, at the lower end of Ironton, on the Ohio River, owned by Hiram Campbell and Company, managed by Mr. Beason, was built in 1852 and has 12 puddling and 6 heating furnaces and 4 trains of rolls driven by steam, and makes perhaps 2,000 tons of bar, rod and sheet iron per year.
Source: “The Iron Manufacturer’s Guide to the Furnaces, Forges and Rolling Mills of the United States.” By J. P. Lesley 1859
Hiram Campbell is the cousin of Ironton founder John Campbell. He and his wife Sarah, who had five children, entertained many special guests, including the 19th president, Rutherford B. Hayes. Painted now in a grayish-blue brick, their home was built in the 1850s and is located at 321 N. 5th St.
Source: Storied history can be found in one of area’s oldest cities, The Herald-Dispatch, May 27, 2012
The Ironton Rolling Mill for some weeks past has been working “double time,” the mill actually running 22 hours out of every 24. This mill has been in operation about 14 months and has been very successful in its business.
Source: Ironton Register, May 12, 1853
Progess of Work. – The transformation of the “old mill” into the modern manufactory of the Eagle Iron & Steel Company, moves actively along.
Source: Ironton Register, Jan. 28, 1892
Eagle Works, Ironton, Lawrence County, Ohio. Built in 1852 and enlarged several times since, 16 single puddling furnaces, 3 double puddling furnaces, 3 gas furnaces for bar and guide mills, one scrap furnace and 3 trains of rolls, one 18 inch muck, one 3 high 16 inch bar, and one 9 inch guide product bars. and 8 to 16 lb rails. Annual capacity 25,000 gross tons. Fuel: natural gas. Formerly called the Ironton Rolling Mill and operated by The Eagle Iron and Steel Company
Source: Directory of Iron and Steel Works of the United States and Canada, Volume 15, 1902