Founded in 1807, Hillsboro was constructed to be the county seat of Highland County, Ohio. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 6,368. It is the county seat of Highland County.
Hillsboro experienced some rapid growth early in its development due to its location of two separate railroad lines. The town became a center of agricultural trade. In 1886, most of Hillsboro's manufacturing businesses produced items, including flour, carriages, and lumber, for farmers living in the surrounding countryside.
Festival of Bells
The Festival of the Bells is celebrated each July in Hillsboro as an outgrowth of a successful 1976 Bicentennial Celebration. Citizens of Hillsboro were looking for a permanent name for their yearly celebration, it was noted that at one time Hillsboro was famous for the production of steel alloy bells, which were shipped around the world. The Festival of the Bells is now an annual event which is held the on the Fourth of July Weekend every year in the center of town. The festival offers three days of events, entertainment, vendors and plus rides and games for kids.
Since 1991 and each year since, a commemorative glass bell is created featuring different county landmarks.
History of the Bells
The manufacture of bells began in 1875 by Charles Bell. His first year he produced over 1,000 bells. By 1890, sales had increased to over 20,000 bells per year in 15 sizes. The bells were divided into two classes: farm bells that were 40 - 100 pounds each; and, school and church bells known as "steel alloy bells" weighing from 150 - 1,000 pounds each. Mr. Bell experimented with various formulas and metals looking for a cheaper alloy than brass, but more durable than iron. After plenty of failures he discovered an alloy could be pitched to create a very mellow tone. It was this tone and durability that made his bells famous throughout the world. During World War II, the Bell foundry manufactured all the navy's bells for the United States, Great Britain and their allies during the war.