By Emmett A. Conway, The Olde Forester
Location: Richland Furnace
Dates: 1854 - c'85
Condition: It is rather inaccessible except by 4WD drive vehicles or by walking the railroad track for approximately one mile. The furnace stack is in fair condition and still has the firebrick liner intact. The area seems to be used for party events and is being overrun by ATV vehicles.(Condition reported by Richard Leive in the Fall of 2000.)
Richland Furnace Newspaper Article
The following is a newspaper article from a Vinton County Paper dated May 11, 1882. It was found by Lawrence McWhorter, Vinton County Historical Society, Hamden, OH. and given to Emmett Conway, Sr.
"RICHLAND FURNACE NOW CLOSED FOR REPAIRS, BUT WILL SOON AGAIN POUR FORTH A MAELSTROM OF MOLTEN IRON, FACTS, FIGURES, ETC."
On Saturday, April 29th, in company with F.M. Dowd, agent for the Singer Sewing Machine, we visited the old reliable Richland Furnace. This furnace is beautifully situated in Richland township, Vinton county, in a narrow valley, enclosed on either side by gigantic hills, whose mineral wealth awaits only further development to fill the coffers of the owners. The natural scenery is sublime in the extreme, and to all lovers of the beautiful and grand in nature, we can only recommend a visit to the sylvian spot, and we feel that none will be disappointed.
To the practical business man, and those who see no beauty in nature, further than what it will produce, we can as cordially recommend a visit, feeling assured that the evidences of great wealth, hidden underneath the uninviting crags of the mountains, will fully repay them.
To all, therefore, we say, visit the place, and we think that you will never regret it; whether as a lover of natural scenery or of its hidden wealth, none will be dissatisfied.
When we arrived, we found that the furnace had "blowed out" for repairs, but they expect to have it running again by the first of June. The furnace is being refitted by a new in-wall, remodeling of the "hot blast," new machinery and such other improvements as are necessary to make it one of the first furnaces in the country.
When a furnace "blows out," there is usually an appearance of everything being at a standstill; not so, however, is this case with old Richland.--Everybody appeared to have something to do, and were doing it, and everything was lively, comparatively speaking.
As an evidence of the management, and business which is done by the company, we give a few statistics furnished us by the managers of the enterprise: During the past season they gave steady employment to about 459 men, including woodchoppers, teamsters, ore diggers, etc.: mined and used over six thousand tons of ore; burned 2,500 tons of charcoal, and turned out about 3,500 tons of "hot-blast" charcoal iron. The furnace company own nearly three thousand acres of rich mineral land, all of which lies within convenient distance of the works.
The iron manufactured by this company ranks number one in all the leading markets, and heretofore they have been unable to supply the demand, but the improvements, now in progress, will add largely to the producing capacity of the furnace, and the managers hope to be able, in future to supply all demands promptly.
While at the furnace, we were entertained by Messrs. A. J. Smart, the gentlemanly Secretary of the company and his brother, C. W. Smart,, who know an editor's weakness for the good things of life, and "set ‘em up" in good style.
We are also under obligations to Henry Gaynor, the gentlemanly bookkeeper of the company, for courtesies shown during our visit. While there we also formed acquaintance of Wm. F. Ruggles, Manager; Alex. Lewis, Assistant Manager; Alvin Manning, Foundry-man; Joe Shoemaker, Engineer, and A. E. McCurdy, Assistant Engineer, all of whom seem to be the right men for the place, and are very agreeable, clever gentlemen.
In conclusion, would say, that Richland Furnace is of one of the industries that our people should take pride in, as is one of the main stays of the county, giving employment to many of the citizens--putting money in circulation, and that way helping all."
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