Submitted by the Eveline Reporter
A stranger approaching Ironton at night, by land or water, is apt to be a little startled by a sudden roar, and a strange lighting up of the streets and buildings; fences and other objects will cast odd shadows; for a moment things will be seen with the distinctness of midday; then with a sullen and indistinct rumble the light will vanish. A shower of sparks slowly depending will mark the spot and occasion of the pyrotechnic display, and then the town will be enveloped in gloom for a short interval, when the scene will be again repeated.
Ironton is located at the mouth of the south arm of Pine Lake on the west side. At this point is located what can be called the largest institution in the county, the Pine Lake Iron Company’s plant.
As we enter the south door of the building we first notice the 125-horse-power engine, that has run night and day (with but one exception) since last April. It stops five minutes every six hours, when the run is made. Leading from this in various directions are pipes to conduct the compressed air to the blast.
The first object that catches our eye in passing from the engine room to the furnace is the large stack a little to our left, which is filled with the ingredients which, when fused, slows out molten iron. Just in front of the enormous stack are the beds which are composed of pure sand, in which the molds are made to run through a trench from the stack. After the cast is made sand and water is thrown over the red iron. In a space of about fifteen minutes time, men with sledges run over the iron to break it into proper lengths. After the iron is sufficiently cool it is taken from the beds, put on a small car and piled on the dock. The beds being cleared from the enormous weight of iron are sprinkled with water and again made ready for the next cast. The furnace is now turning out about 60 tons of iron each twenty-four hours.
We pass through another archway to the third room. The first that attracts our attention is the wonderful piece of machinery called the crusher where the attendant is throwing in pieces of limestone about the size of a man’s head. The motion goes no faster, no slower, but the stones are crushed as relentlessly and surely as though they were nothing but eggshells. In this apartment is the big elevator, on which charcoal, limestone and ore in measured quantities are wheeled on and hoisted to the top of the building to be dumped into the fiery furnace.
At this point are discharged the coal buggies- add affairs with their wheels in the air, suspended from, and running on an elevated truck that winds around among the coal pits or kilns. Those kilns are 33 in number, which are a short distance west of the works are of brick, conical shaped and white washed. As seen from the lake, they make one think of the mighty teepees of a tribe of giants, and have been the cause of much wonderment and inquiry on part the part of passengers on the steamboats. Once more outside to the south, and our eye catches sight of heaps of iron ore; some of it black and flakey much like stone coal, but the most of it has the appearance of red clay; moist and greasy-looking, it appears like anything but iron. It is brought here in steam and sail vessels from the upper peninsula.
The company gives employment to two hundred men. They have eighteen teams, and among them are many very fine animals. Their tug, the Bob Stevenson, is kept busy daily towing scows of wood from the lakes. Thirty thousand tons of ore comes to the company’s dock each year, and sixty tons of iron is averaged daily.
North of the works we stroll up Lake Street a distance of about forty rods and we come to the company’s hotel, known as the Lake View House. Mr. Augustus Munson, proprietor. It is a fine building, nicely located having a magnificent view of Pine Lake and South Arm. It is 24x60 feet in size and has good accomodations.
A little further on we enter the company’s store. We find the first department largely filled up with dry goods, boots and shoes, winter footwear, etc. In the second department we find on one side a full stock of groceries and provisions and patent medicines. The other side is stocked with hardware, etc. Still back of this a room is stocked with gents furnishing goods. They also have a meat market in the building. In the third department, north east corner, is the office of superintendent R.M. Cherrie. Take all into consideration we think we are safe in saying that this is the largest store in the county.
Other dealers are J.H. Purvis, druggist and grocer, in whose store is also located the public telephone. Across the street is the Pioneer Hotel, A.B. Noyes, Proprietor, who is also postmaster and justice of the peace.
We go down the street and turn the corner and fetch up at the store of John G. Peterson, whose store is well-stocked with groceries, dry goods, boots and shoes and winter wear, and who is doing a lively business.
On this street to the west is nicely located a schoolhouse, in which the well-known and most successful of teachers, Mr. J.M. Harris and Miss. Mattie O’Neil, preside. This makes that part of the town very attractive, and shows that the wants of the children are not forgotten. The building contains four rooms- two below and two above.
We stroll down to the lake, where resides the Ironton Cobbler. Ironton has two churches, congregational and methodist. There is one sawmill, owned and operated by Aaron Box, which has a capacity of about 20,000 per day.
Taken together, Ironton is a nice little town, being well located and in which a great deal of money is made and scattered abroad, and has a prospect of a good future before it. We cross the free ferry, under the supervision of Mr. Robert A. Miller. Once over we enter the well-located store owned and operated by Mr. Charles A. Bedwin, who has it well-filled with dry goods, rubber goods, groceries and patent medicines, and reports a thriving business.