In 1800, Richard Deering, a farmer on the Little Sandy River in what is now the adjoining county of Greenup, made a discovery that made a tremendous impact on the area's development.While engaged in the process of boiling down salt for farm uses, Deering discovered high grade iron ore deposits on his property.That resulted in the closure of the hot strip mill, however, a new slab caster was constructed that provided steel slabs for Middletown.
In 1954, the payroll increased to 7,500 before decreasing to 4,500 by 1972, 3,500 in 1982, 1,630 by 1986 and just 700 by 1992.
On March 12, 1941, ground was broken for the Bellefonte Furnace.
The first child born in the new town of Ashland was named Ashland Poage, a mixture of the old and new names.
Major industrial employers in the first half of the 20th century included the Armco, the Ashland Oil and Refining Company, the C&O Railroad, Allied Chemical and Dye Company's Semet Solvay and Mansbach Steel.
Completed in 1942 at a cost of $5 million, it produced 1,000/tons of steel per day. A new hot-strip mill was opened on May 20, 1953 that employed 3,000.
One year later, a cold reduction mill, strip pickler, light gauge zincgrip and a heavy gauge zincgrip was completed at a cost of million.
A name change was inevitable, as the city was becoming an industrialized region, not a mere 'settlement.' Hampton, who was an admirer of Henry Clay of Lexington and his estate, Ashland, requested the renaming to "Ashland" in respect of the famous politician. Lots were sold at public auction in June 1854, and the City of Ashland was incorporated by an act of the Kentucky Legislature in 1856.
Boyd County was created by the Legislature in 1860, primarily from Greenup County.
Iron produced at these charcoal fired furnaces were hauled to Poage's Landing and Hanging Rock, Ohio, for shipment on the Ohio River to Pittsburgh and Cincinnati.
Poage's Landing soon became a center of industry for eastern Kentucky. (Seven years later, it was renamed "Ashland" after the incorporation of the town.) It was not until 1854, however, that industrial development began with the charter of the Kentucky Iron, Coal and Manufacturing Company by the Kentucky General Assembly.
This was the beginning of the iron industry in northeastern Kentucky.