By the mid-1800s, the United States was well on its way to becoming an economic powerhouse. Raw materials, booming industries, and new technologies were making the country an industrialized force to be reckoned with. In Ohio, these innovations took root and grew in Hocking Valley, located in the southeastern corner of the state.
Bricks for paving and construction were crafted in this region. One of the main centers for brick making was the town of Nelsonville. By the 1880s, the biggest brick company in the area, Nelsonville Brick, was crafting 25 million bricks a year, baking them in large beehive-shaped ovens. The company slowly expanded over the next few decades and into the 20th-century.
By World War I there was less demand for brick as concrete became more prevalent. Nelsonville Brick closed around 1937, and most of the other brick factories in the area were defunct shortly thereafter during the 1940s.
Most of the remnants of the old brick kilns were torn down, except a few that were left to slowly crumble. In 1979, a decision was made to restore several of the old kilns and revitalize the area into a small park to commemorate Nelsonville’s brick history. In 1980, the city created Brick Park on the grounds of the former Nelsonville Brick Company.
Inside the park is one fully intact kiln which can be entered and photographed, a collapsed kiln, two sizable chimneys, and a large commemoration plaque made of Nelsonville brick. Located on a very quiet and bucolic road on the outskirts of town, the Brick Park makes for a short but interesting historical walk-through.
Know Before You Go
Park on the opposite side of the road, walk across the road and explore. Be careful as you enter the kilns due to the low doorways.