In 1849, Ironton was founded by John Campbell, a successful pig iron manufacturer in Southern Ohio. Interested in expanding his pig iron operations, he chose what would become the Ironton area because of the hills to the north of the Ohio River that housed a great deal of iron-ore.It was his interest in the lands along the Ohio River that would result in the establishment of the city. He saw an area that would be ideal for the transport of the high-in-demand iron-ore commodity. Even the slope of the land made the area ideal for moving raw material to the various blast furnaces throughout Lawrence County, Ohio.Between 1850 and 1890, Ironton became one of the most significant producers of iron in the world. France, Russia, and England acquired iron for their warships from the area because of the high quality. The iron from the Ironton region was also used in the construction of the USS Monitor, which was the first ironclad U.S. ship.