River, iron, and rail when intertwined make up a rope that links the tri-state river cities of Huntington, West Virginia; Ashland, Kentucky; Ironton, Ohio; and Portsmouth, Ohio. The Ohio River provided a quicker and convenient way for the pre-industrial settlers in eastern United States to move westward in their unending search for land, riches, and prominence. Iron manufacturing in the Hocking Valley brought jobs and stability that seemed at the time as inexhaustible as the sun itself. The railroads brought further wealth to the hills and deep valleys where at one time farming had been the major source of income. Huntington is the largest of the area cities. The population is now approaching 50,000 inhabitants.