Make your way down a back road on the outskirts of Leetonia, Ohio, and you’ll see dirt banks lined with small arched openings. Those are coke ovens, 200 in total, once used to turn the locally mined coal into purified coke, the preferred fuel in iron and steel mills.
The structures are in various states of disrepair, and almost a little creepy; it’s easy to imagine an army of trolls crawling out the holes in these cave-like structures in the dark of night. But it’s also beautiful, with wildflowers and woods around the ovens and all throughout the park.
The ovens were built in 1866 by the Leetonia Iron and Coal Company, later renamed the Cherry Valley Iron Works. When the company closed in 1930, the site was abandoned and neglected for over 50 years, until restoration efforts began.
Today there are walking trails that go along and above the beehive ovens, but take care not to walk on top of the ovens themselves—they are crumbling, and the foliage hides multiple holes that once functioned as loading holes or chimneys.