Ironton is a city in the U.S. state of Ohio and the county seat of Lawrence County. The municipality is located in southern Ohio along the Ohio River. The population was 11,211 at the 2000 census. Ironton is a part of the Huntington-Ashland, WV-KY-OH, Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). As of the 2000 census, the MSA had a population of 288,649. As of 2010, the Census Bureau pegged the population of 11,129.
Ironton was founded in 1849 by John Campbell, who was a prominent pig iron manufacturer in the area. Interested in expanding his foundry business, and due to the area's rich iron-ore content (particularly in the hills to the north), he became interested in the lands surrounding what would later become the city of Ironton. The location of Ironton was chosen for its position along the Ohio River, which would allow for transport of the much-needed commodity, iron-ore, and the slope of the land itself, which facilitated movement of the raw material to the local blast furnaces.
Between 1850 and 1890, Ironton was one of the foremost producers of iron in the world. England, France, and Russia all purchased iron for warships from here due to the quality; iron produced in Ironton and surrounding areas was used for the USS Monitor, the United States' first ironclad ship. There were more than ninety furnaces in operation at the peak of production in the late 19th century. The immense wealth that was created from the bustling pig-iron industry led to the construction of many opulent residences.