Belfont Furnace

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Belfont Furnace Location

Belfont Iron Works (aka The Belfont Mill) was located approximately where Meehan Steel/J&M Steel is now. But the furnace was along the riverbank between Madison and Jefferson Streets in Ironton.

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There are some typos in the above article…Morton should be Norton. It is also interesting to note that Col. E.M. Norton’s brother and business partner, George Norton, was tragically killed in a steamboat accident. Here’s the story:Ironton Journal, Jan. 8, 1868 – TERRIBLE EXPLOSION: STEAMER HARRY DEAN BLOWN UP
And Burned To the Water’s Edge, Twelve or Thirteen Lives Lost, Large Number Wounded.THE LATE CAPT. G. W. NORTON
On Saturday last a gloom was suddenly cast over our entire community by a dispatch from Gallipolis, announcing that our fellow-citizen, Capt. G. W. Norton, president of the Belfont Iron Works Company, together with R. M. Biggs, was among the lost on the ill-fated steamer Harry Dean, which exploded her boilers about two miles below that place. The steamer Telegraph was chartered by the Belfont Iron Works Co., accompanied by a number of citizens, proceeded at once to the scene of the disaster. At Burlington, she met the Victor No. 4, but she had left Gallipolis just as the Harry Dean landed and did not know of the explosion. After thorough investigation it was ascertained pretty conclusively that Mr. Norton had been blown overboard, as two or three papers were found below the wreck washed ashore, which he had in his pocket at the time.There is no event so much to be deplored as his loss to our community at this time, and the sudden manner his taking off, make our regrets the more acute.

Ironton Journal, Jan. 11, 1871 – One Randolph McDonald, from about Center Furnace, wandered intoxicated into Belfont Furnace last Monday night and was found yesterday morning near one of the gas conductors, dead. Jury was called and rendered the following verdict: “That we, do find the deceased, Randolph McDonald, came to his death by intemperance, exposure and inhaling gas escaping from the ground conductor at Belfont Furnace.”

Ironton Register, February 28, 1878 – The Belfont Furnace made last week, 325 tons pig, and did it on 49.8 bushels fuel per ton of pig, using but one-fourth Iron Mountain ore. Where is the furnace that can show a smaller quantity of fuel per ton of pig? The average for several weeks will not exceed 52 bushels. They received on last Monday, 100,000 bushels of coke.

Ironton Register, October 1, 1885 – Fire was started in Belfont stack, last Tuesday, for the purpose of drying it out. The stack has been entirely overhauled – new hearth, inwall and lining complete. The hearth and top have been reduced a little but the bosh remains the same. The furnace is now supposed to be in better fix than ever before. It has also a new bell. The furnace will probably start this Fall sometime. The company have about 18,000 tons of ore at their mines, which they will work up, if business gets so they can do it. They have no coke as yet.

Ironton Register, November 19, 1885 – Belfont furnace blew in on Monday and made her first cast Tuesday morning – ten or twelve tons of No. 2. Mr. Rodgers says she is working well.

Ironton Register, November 26, 1885 – (Iron News) – Belfont furnace is running along nicely, making about 50 tons a day.

Ironton Register, January 14, 1886 – Belfont Furnace is now running on 30 per cent of Missouri Ore.

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Some of the iron furnace men evolved into cement making men….to read more about this connection (and about SG Gilfillan and Samuel Brady Steece)…..click HERE.

Belfont Furnace was dismantled in 1935.

Belfont Iron Works

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Above: Articles of Incorporation dated September 1873. Below: Sanborn map of Belfont Iron Works and current Google Maps image of the location now.

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Ironton Register, February 28, 1878 – The Belfont shut down Saturday, for probably two weeks. The factory will run but two weeks between this and April 1st; this under the combination regulations. They have an ample stock, however, of nails, to meet any order.

Ironton Register, April 4, 1878 – The Belfont nail mill is in full operation now. By the arrangement agreed upon at the Nail Manufacturer’s meeting, at Pittsburgh, last week, there are only two weeks’ run this month.

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Stone abutment from the old iron bridge that used to cross Storms Creek at the end of Vesuvius Street. Storms Creek was re-routed to where it is now (outside the flood gates) when the flood wall was constructed. This stone structure is next to the 2nd Street overpass and the creek bed is still visible. The other structure is pictured below, against the hillside the train tracks are on.


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Here is the bridge, and abutments, either being taken down or replaced. Date unknown.

According to the Ironton Register, this bridge was originally built in 1854. Furthermore, the first Baptist church built in Ironton, with Rev. John Lee as pastor, was located close by on the riverbank. It also had a small graveyard which has since been washed away. Here’s the article:

IR Mar. 31, 1881 – 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 Storms Creek 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 on 8 Feb of that year.

Getting a little off track from the furnaces….but an interesting tidbit:
There was possibly an Indian graveyard on the river bank where the Ironton Rolling Mill was. These articles are describing the same place…the Kelly Farm and Union Furnace landing are the same place. (The deed to the Kelly farm is online and the Legal Description of this property still says “Union Fnc Landing” on the Auditor’s site.)

IR Mar. 31, 1881 – “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 Storms Creek 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.” [Storm’s Creek was re-routed when they built the flood wall]

And an article in 1892 says: “On the old farm of Joshua Kelley’s at Union furnace landing, and under the old house there was unearthed a lot of human skeletons…It was said then to me, by old settlers, old aunt Amy Davidson, that there used to be an old Indian town there, and on the John Kelly farm just below it, and at an early day it had been a battle ground of the Indians and many were killed and buried there.” (Letter From a Citizen of Early Days, Ironton Register, Thursday, April 14, 1892)

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Here is an 1887 map showing the bridge across Storms Creek at the end of Vesuvius Street.
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From Deed Book 6, page 249, located at Lawrence Co. Recorder’s Office, dated 1856…shows Storms Creek and bridge

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Belfonte Steel and Wire Company
     Ashland Armco purchased the property when Belfonte Steel closed.
In 1934, Robert Stern purchased the property from Ashland Armco. He used it as part of the Ironton Product Company.
On April 28, 1949 around 9:00 a.m., two storage buildings of the former Belfonte Steel and Wire operation caught fire. $50,000 worth of damage was done by the fire. The buildings were located on Hecla Street near 2nd. Both buildings were completely destroyed. Robert Stern had stored war surplus supplies in the building. Unfortunately, he did not have insurance on the contents. The Cincinnati Cleaning and Finishing Company, located next door, was slightly damaged from the heat of the fire. The flames did not reach any other buildings.

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The image above shows the current Belfont Iron Works site, which is currently the home of the Ironton Municipal Garage.