Business in the Hanging Rock region blossomed in the 1850s, and the area became Ohio's first chief industrial center. Much of the iron produced here was used to build the nation's growing railroad system. The railroads, in turn, provided transportation for iron exports, linking the hills of southeast Ohio to distant markets that could be reached by way of the Ohio River or the Great Lakes. During the Civil War the Hanging Rock iron makers provided iron for cannons and other military equipment used by the Union Army, including the iron plate that sheathed the army's famous iron-clad warship, the Monitor. Hope Furnace closed in 1874, and the last of the furnaces closed in 1916, but their legacy lives on in the stone towers scattered over the landscape of the Hanging Rock Iron Region and the imaginations of those who visit them.
Make A Difference Day
On Make A Difference Day 2005, a community partnership came together to preserve Hope Furnace. The furnace exterior was cleaned of vegetation, brush was removed from the area, new steps were constructed to lead visitors up the hill to the furnace, and these five signs were created. The Hope Furnace Preservation Project was made possible through a grant by the Ohio's Appalachian Country and the Ohio Governor's Office of Appalachia. Vinton County partners included : the Vinton County Convention and Visitors' Bureau, Sojourners Care Network, Lake Hope State Park, Vinton County Chamber of Commerce, Vinton County Development Department, McArthur Lumber and Post, and Carter Lumber of Wellston.