Union Iron Furnace
(Hocking County)
aka Five Mile Furnace

By Emmett A. Conway, Sr., The Olde Forester

Location: One-half mile south of crossroads of Union Furnace, Starr Township, on State Route 328.

Dates: 1853 -

Fuel: Charcoal

Condition: Bluff and level area remains on east side of highway.

For statistics find the REPORT OF PROGRESS IN 1870 -- GEOLOGICAL SURVEY OF OHIO, page 85.

Site of Union Furnace c1980. Ore roasting beds on the upper level area. It was a common practice to pre-roast the crushed ore by burning between layers of charcoal.

Map of UNION FURNACE and associated resources at time of operation, c1876

The Atlas of Hocking County, 1876, by Titus Simmons & Titus, is a masterpiece of surveying and drafting. The serious student of the Hanging Rock Charcoal Iron Furnaces can learn much from this map. “New Cadiz” is now the hamlet of Union Furnace. The actual furnace was in the southwest quarter of Section 23 and labeled as such. The ore beds noted on the map are likely in the same location as their remains show in 1997.

Ore beds along the road east of New Cadiz (today’s Union Furnace) on the north side of Section 17 mark where iron ore was found and “raised” for hauling to the furnace. Many of these ore strip benches can be found. This land is part of the Wayne National Forest which is made up of many tracts originally acquired by the furnace owners for supplying ore, limestone and timber/charcoal.

Note also a stone quarry marked along the south line of Section 23 about a quarter mile east of the furnace site. This is likely where they quarried and hewed the immense blocks of sandstone for the stack and the lining. A few years ago The Olde Forester found a hewn furnace stone in a quarry about a quarter mile from Richland Furnace--all dressed up and no place to go.

Geologists at the time of the Hanging Rock Iron Region activity during the Nineteenth Century were the elite scientists of the day. That science attracted the most brilliant minds. We can deduce this from the excellent reconnaissance and reporting they did of the mineral resources. Bear in mind that the truly immense iron ore deposits of the Mesabi Range were not discovered until mid-century and their impact didn’t develop until the last half of the century.

For further information on Hocking County charcoal iron furnaces and Union Furnace, in particular, find a copy of Geological Survey of Ohio -- Report of Progress in 1870, by J.S. Newberry, Chief Geologist. Inasmuch as the area southeast of Logan was known to be in what they called, "the productive Coal measures," special attention was given to the location of coal and iron ores, in addition to ceramic raw materials of clay and shales. On page 80 begins a discussion of mineral resources in Hocking and Athens Counties.

Union Furnace seems to get special treatment in the 1870 report,.This was only the second annual report of the restored Ohio Geological Survey , having been established in 1837-1838; then not reestablished until 1869. Statistics of Union Furnace are given on page 85.

Return to Links to Iron Furnaces

Return to The Olde Forester Home Page

E-mail The Olde Forester

Webmaster: Daughter Sandra Conway Morrissey