Day 2: September 3, 2006
The Furnace Hunters
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Portsmouth, OH I set out this morning with plans to visit some nearby canal lock remnants before meeting Baby Boomer Bob at 11:00. I didn't have detailed directions but did have a general idea of where they were. My first guess got me to a "Private Property No Trespassing" sign. Directions obtained at a gas station near an historic canal marker got me to a state park and workers at the park got me to the location pictured. My understanding was that the locks were between one and two miles down that unpaved road. I didn't have time to walk it and I lacked at least eight inches of the clearance required to drive it. In a conversation with a local couple at the end of the day, I learned that 1) I was in the right place and 2) the locks weren't nearly as far away as I thought. Oh well. Next time.

Portsmouth, OH Portsmouth, OH Portsmouth, OH Portsmouth, OH Portsmouth, OH I headed into Portsmouth with what I hoped would be enough time to see all of the murals. It was but just barely. Seeing all of the murals means walking along more than a half mile of flood wall and taking in more than 2200 square feet of artwork. I parked and headed to the east end of the murals trying not to look at them too much on the way. The murals do not tell a single coordinated story but they are more or less in chronological sequence and I was trying to view them in order. Many of the scenes are just about life sized so that having your picture taken in front of them can be great fun. Plus some of the people in the pictures aren't really in the pictures. Notice the two ladies standing just outside the frame of the football scene. I included that one to show that the Packers have had problems in Ohio before. (For non-locals, the Cincinnati Bengals beat the Packers last week in a pre-season game.)

Portsmouth, OH I clearly did not do enough Portsmouth research because this micro-brewery is only a couple of blocks away from where I had dinner and I didn't even know it existed until I drove by it on the return from the unsuccessful hunt for the locks. I walked the block or so from the end of the murals to check it out. I learned it would open at noon so figured there was a chance I'd be back.

It looked like I would be right on schedule as I turned back from the brewery with ten minutes to reach the planned meeting spot. I'm sure I would have been there precisely at eleven but I did even better than that. Bob was right on time, too, and he saved me from walking that last block by picking me up right in front of the Portsmouth Motorcycle Club mural.

Vesuvius Furnace Vesuvius Furnace I had not met either Bob's wife, Susan, or his friend, Kevin, but we all had heard enough about each other that introductions weren't really necessary. The day's plan was to visit a couple of old iron furnaces. These are one of Kevin's particular interests, Bob has an attraction to old multi-armed telephone poles, Susan has a fondness for light houses, and we all tend to start rubber necking around bridges, diners, old roads & buildings, barns with stuff painted on them, and other bits of roadside culture. We would get along fine.

Our first target was Vesuvius Furnace, one of several iron furnaces that once operated in Lawrence County. It was built in 1833 and operated until 1906.

Vesuvius Furnace Vesuvius Furnace Vesuvius Furnace Vesuvius Furnace A little over a century after it was built, Vesuvius Furnace became the biggest decoration in a new park area. An earthen dam was built nearby with, like many projects of the time, help from the Civilian Conservation Corps. The spillway actually faces the furnace. There is an elevated walkway along one side of the small lake that the dam created and Bob, Kevin, and I walked across it. On the way I got a shot of Kevin (left) and Bob (right). I never did get a picture of Susan. On the way back we spotted the stone bridge and headed down the face of the dam to have a closer look. Some kids had been having a ball rolling down it earlier but we remembered something about discretion & valor (and bumps & bruises) and choose to walk instead.

Furnace? Furnace? This is the day's mystery. It looks to be on private property so we guessed from afar. It kind of looks like a chimney so we were all guessing that it might be some kind of furnace. If so, what kind? Was it once all connected? Did the right side once have its own chimney? Is that even a chimney? Inquiring minds want to know.

Buckeye Furnace Buckeye Furnace Buckeye Furnace Buckeye Furnace Buckeye Furnace Buckeye Furnace As we continued north toward Buckeye Furnace, place names started to seem familiar and I convinced myself that I had visited this furnace a few years ago. I expected a bare chimney in an open field but was wrong on all counts. I had never been here and Buckeye Furnace is much more than a bare chimney.

The large stone stack is usually the only thing left from one of these furnaces; The wooden structures that surrounded it having rotted or burned long ago. In the 1960s, the Ohio Historic Society rebuilt those bits of Buckeye Furnace and we have a rare full scale view of this nineteenth century technology. A rather large (1.37MB) PDF file is available here that describes southern Ohio's once thriving iron industry in general and Buckeye Furnace in particular.

Jackson, OH Jackson, OH Jackson, OH Jackson, OH Our return to Portsmouth was through Jackson where we found a number of camera targets. We saw a poster for an up coming Apple Festival so decided that the water (Or is it cider?) tower represented an apple. The Shake Shoppe is for sale and there is plenty of time for new owners to get it ready for a spring time grand opening.

I was deposited safely back in Portsmouth and decided to stop by that brewery before leaving town. Good beer, good food, and some good advice. I used the downtime to move the day's pictures to the computer and that local couple I mentioned earlier took notice. In addition to confirming that the road I had photographed did lead to some canal locks, Debby and Curt suggested taking OH-104 north. I had planned on using US-23 but followed and appreciated their advice instead.

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