The Iron Railroad was built when Ironton was founded to transport pig iron made at the furnaces. If you look at the GPS map on the main page you'll see the general route of the railroad, which coincides (approximately) with present day St Rt 93. The railroad started in Ironton at the river bank and Railroad Street and ended at Center Station in Decatur Township. The Royersville Tunnel (formerly called Vesuvius Station) was carved out for the Iron Railroad locomotives. It is still there but in poor condition. Eventually the Detroit, Toledo & Ironton (DT&I) Railroad took over the Iron Railroad, utilizing the tracks and tunnel.
The "Essex" locomotive
Excerpt from "A Standard History of the Hanging Rock Iron Region of Ohio" by Eugene Willard. Available at Briggs Library in Ironton and viewable online HERE.
Iron Railroad Round House Number 113.....there were several of these in Lawrence County including along the riverbank close to Big Etna Furnace and at Center Station, which was the end point of the Iron Railroad (present day State Route 93 between County Road 41 North and South in Decatur Township).
THIS ARTICLE by the Forest Service says the Iron Railroad ended at Center Furnace, which is incorrect. Look at the map below.
1887 Map of Decatur Township section 33 shows where the Iron Railroad ended....in Center Station NOT Center Furnace as some sources claim.
Ironton Register, March 3, 1887 - Sunday, April 3, is the time fixed now for widening the Narrow Gauge. This is, also, said to be reliable. Also same date: It is time to widen the Narrow Gauge. We heard a furnaceman remark that it was dangerous to ship pig iron over it.
Detroit, Toledo & Ironton (DT&I)
DT&I coming out of the Royersville Tunnel. One end of this tunnel is located at: 38.603863,-82.672141
The tunnel, pictured above, is shown on the 1885 map when it was used for the Iron Railroad. You can see the map HERE and you'll see that the lands around it were owned by the Belfont and Lawrence Mills and Hecla Iron and Mining Co. Back then this area was called Vesuvius Station and later was called the Royersville Tunnel when the DT&I used it.