Ohio History Journal

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
  • 11
  • 12
  • 13
  • 14
  • 15
  • 16
  • 17






The forge was the forerunner of the rolling mill and as such

deserves some attention in the history of the iron industry in Ohio.

Forging was the method used by the pioneers in the refining and

the shaping of crude iron into wares usable by the blacksmiths

and mechanics of that day. Although simple in design and small

in output, the forge was distinctly one of the early steps that led,

through many changes and advancements, to the immense steel

mills of the present time the commodities of which are wide and

intricate and now ably support many demands of modern civiliza-

tion. The pioneers thus looked to the forge for bars, rods, and

plates or for refined metal for tools, implements, machinery, horse

shoes, etc. Later some of the forges yielded bloom for the rolling

mills, the first Ohio plant of that kind being built at Portsmouth

in 1834.

In principle the forge was just a large pattern of the tools

of the blacksmith. Most of the Ohio forges worked on pig metal

and not from iron smelted in the process from prepared ores. Pig

iron from the charcoal furnaces was heated in charcoal on a large

stone or fire-brick hearth with an air blast from a bellows operated

by water power. In this way the metal was heated slowly to a

soft malleable condition and was then placed under the hammer

and pounded into the desired shape of bars, rods or sheets. The

process also removed impurities and changed and cemented the

grains into a stronger more tenacious mass.

The tilt-hammer, the common form of hammer in use with

the pioneers, consisted of a horizontal shaft or hammer stock,

pivoted as a lever of the first order with a hammer head on one