Athens county is located in southeastern Ohio and uses the city of Athens, home of Ohio University, as its county seat. The county population on July 1, 1999, was 61,599, an increase of 2,050 over the 1990 census.
Mound-building Indians from the Adena culture, canals, railroads, mining and the first university west of the Appalachian Mountains all contribute to the rich history of Athens County. Although many relics from the Adenas have been preserved by archaeologists, many more were destroyed by farmers' plows and yet others remain buried.
Often, small communities would form around iron furnaces, providing services and recreation for workers and their families. The hills were rich in salt, coal, iron, oil and gas when the settlers arrived. Mines and mills as well as the furnaces sprung up as needed to preocess the raw materials.
For outdoor lovers, about half of the county is within the Wayne National Forest.