By Emmett A. Conway, The Olde Forester
Dates: 1856 -
Condition: Bluff and level area remains behind company store where furnace was located. Spotted a few of the stones from stack in the foundation of the store in 1978.
Hocking Charcoal Furnace was against the bluff behind the remains of the company store. It predates the store which probably had more than a few of the large stones from the stack in its foundation.
Louise Olinger, former secretary to manager, Mr. Matheney, has written an excellent and complete history of the enterprise. We exerpt her report on the charcoal iron furnace.
“In 1856, a charcoal furnace located at Hanging Rock, Ohio, near Ironton, was purchased and removed by canal boats to this site which then was given the name of Hocking Furnace. The development of the charcoal iron industry attracted the attention of Peter Hayden, Columbus businness man, who was expanding his activities. He owned a line of canal boats which gave him transportation facilities (which were important in those days). He began to buy into the Dille, Brice and Moore Company until finally he was the sole owner. Halleck Hayden, a nephew, was made first manager of the furnace under his ownership. Charcoal fuel was manufactured in the hills and valleys surrounding the respective plants which were in operation for many years, but with new developments in the iron manufacturing industry, they made way for more progressive methods.”
Haydenville, Ohio, a few miles down the Hocking River from the county seat of Logan is on THE NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES because it is a unique company village whose owners developed and promoted vitrified ceramic building materials for a variety of architectural uses---not because of it being the site of the most northerly of the Hanging Rock Iron Region blast furnaces.
The small village, bypassed by U.S. Route 33, is one of the tourist attractions of Hocking County. Most unusual are the demonstration houses which are still occupied. There is a church devotedly and attractively fashioned from company tile as a product advertisement. One house is perfectly round. Sad to say, there are only remnants of the company headquarters building. This held company offices, store, theater, infirmary, etc. Style was eclectic: Gothic, Spanish, Georgian. The architects from Ohio University went nuts when they saw the building before someone cleared part of it away to manufacture wood pallets. The late Reverend John Lloyd Evans, helping me conduct a trip for the architectural professors from Ohio University, said that Manager, C. S. Matheney, would stand on the Spanish balcony and tell the assembled workers why they couldn’t have a raise. The company houses are of varied design. Some had sewer pipe tile in the gable ends for decorations. Visiting architects promptly dubbed the style, “Sewer Pipe Gothic." We don’t wish to belittle the place for it was truly a clever unique business venture. It has been studied and documented in scholarly circles and was a very clever business enterprise.
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