Olive Furnace

Olive Furnace

38.762619, -82.630439


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!

NEW Historical Marker dedicated October 15, 2017


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!

Clean Up 2012 – Day One
Uncovering the foundation of the engine room

1889 Sanborn Map showing the locations of the buildings (the creek on the right runs alongside present day St Rt 93) Source: http://sanborn.umi.com/oh/6739/dateid-000002.htm?CCSI=14325n
Olive Furnace Company Store, gone now but was located across from the furnace
Olive’s famous Roman Arch, 2012
Part of the engine room foundation
Foundation of the hot blast system
Well-preserved brick lining inside the stack


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 HEREPicture

Excerpt from “The Friend: A Religious and Literary Journal,” Volume 29. 1856.


Have questions? Contact Nicole Cox at (740) 646-4104. We hope to see you there!

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About Lawrence County, Ohio

Lawrence County, Ohio borders the Ohio River at the Southernmost part of the state. Six architecturally interesting bridges span the Ohio River, connecting Lawrence County with various locations in both Kentucky and West Virginia. Because of these bridges, metropolitan Ashland, KY and Huntington, WV are just minutes away from virtually anywhere in the county.

Lawrence County Ohio was organized December 20, 1816, the first Court of Common Pleas was organized March 4, 1817. In 2016, Lawrence County celebrated its Bicentennial… click here to view photos of the Grand Finale event.

The first election was held April 7, 1817, with Joseph Davidson, Joel Bowen, and David Spurlock elected county commissioners. Their first meeting was held Monday afternoon, April 21, 1817, at the home of Joseph Davidson in Burlington.

Lawrence County, Ohio was named after Capt. James Lawrence, a native of Burlington, NJ and a gallant naval officer of the War of 1812.

Lawrence County was home to 23 blast furnaces and was once the world leader in pig iron production.

The county seat is Ironton, where you will find our government offices, restaurants, museum, library, splash park, civic organizations, and is home of the famous Memorial Day Parade.

Check out what’s new in Lawrence County, with the Lawrence County Guide Book. 

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