The OES visited the Nelsonville Brick Plant on April 6, 2002. While on our way to Moonville Tunnel, we discovered this brick plant just beyond Nelsonville's police station. Until the first commercial brick plant in Nelsonville was built, bricks were usually made on the construction site for specific homes or buildings as needed. The first brick plant in Nelsonville was built in 1877. The brick plant we visited was built as an expansion to that plant in 1880. These structures were down-draft kilns, meaning the air would heat up, go up to the ceiling, and then sucked through a hole in the floor and out of the smokestack.
Nelsonville Block produced bricks for sidewalks, roads, buildings, and water/sewer systems in the Hocking Valley region. Over 120 men were employed at Nelsonville's five brick plants during the peak of the industrial revolution, when demand for bricks was high. The bricks fired at this particular plant gained world-wide recognition in 1904 when the paving brick "Nelsonville Block" won 1st prize at the World's Fair in St. Louis. Concrete and asphalt slowly began to replace the demand for brick around the time of World War One and by 1940, the Nelsonville Brick Plant kilns permanently closed. Nelsonville Park was established in 1979 and the old kilns were restored. Nelsonville Block can still be spotted in older neighborhoods as well as new developments (such as Easton Town Center in Columbus) that are reusing old brick throughout Central Ohio.
UPDATE: When driving past the Nelsonville Brick Plant in 2006, we found that one of the brick kilns had collapsed. We have since learned that a large tree had fallen on the kiln, damaging it. Workers have cleaned up the fallen bricks and were planning to repair the kiln. As of the summer of 2012, the repairs have not been made.