The county’s early industry centered around the iron furnaces. Vast amounts of timber were cut and cleared to fuel the furnaces.
Indeed, Goodspeed’s 1886 History of Tennessee rated Hickman County’s iron ore as the best in the state. The Lee and Gould Furnace on Sugar Creek opened in 1832. Five years later, Madison Napier built a furnace near Aetna, which was destroyed by Union troops during the Civil War. Furnaces also opened on Mill Creek near Wrigley at an early date. Standard Charcoal Company opened a furnace at Goodrich in 1882; and a new furnace was built at Aetna in 1885. All iron works in the county were discontinued before 1940. In addition to iron manufacturing, Hickman County’s economy has centered on agriculture and timbering.