Last spring F.F. and I traveled past McArthur to visit the Belgian Ovens Coke Plant. Unfortunately at that time the creek was swollen (and the water still very cold) and the rusted out bridge with the “closed sign” too scary to walk over and we ended up going home, mission unaccomplished.
Last week we decided to make our way back.
On the way down one of asked the other, “You remember where it is?” and the other responded, “No, I thought you did.” Me: It’s so famous that we’ll just top at a gas station and ask.
We stopped at the grocery store and two employees asked several others. One even googled it. Finally, they all gave up, handing us a Vinton County map and a visitor’s booklet. One good thing about having an overflowing email account is the possibility of finding a months’ old message describing the coke plant, including directions.
One good thing about being country folk is our ability to walk through woods, down a hill, through creek water, and back up the other side, and walking on toward where we thought it would be.
We both took pictures but only F.F. was “brave” enough to walk through the ovens, videotaping it as he went. Exiting, he said he realized walking through there could be snakes hiding there! “If there were, you’d be carrying me home.” He didn’t want to do that.
On the way back we stopped at mobile barbecue and got possibly one of the best pulled pork with the kitchen sink sandwiches ever made.
According to the “Official 2011 Guide to Vinton County” we were wandering through “Ohio’s Newest State Forest” including the 12,089 acre Vincton Furnace State Experimental Forest and the neighboring 3,405 acre Vincton Furnace State Wildlife Area. F.F. and I will have to hoof through quickly because this property is home to bobcats, black bears and timber rattlesnakes. Several rare plant species also reside and thrive here.
Belgian Ovens Coke Plant
Update: When I got home, I actually read – not skimmed – the directions and info about the coke plant, and realized that we missed half the ruins. As F.F. pointed out, “We’re goofy.” There was a trail to the west (in my mind) that would have taken us to the actual furnace. All is well – we shall return! And this time we’ll know exactly where we’re going and what to look for.