A "lock mill" is a water-powered mill that receives its head of water from the difference in height in the canal on either side of the lock. In 1852-1853, the Alexander Mill was built at Lock #37 on the Ohio & Erie Canal in Valley View. Also known as the Fourteen-Mile Lock Mill, the canal supplied water to a horizontal turbine. The canal only enjoyed a few successful years due to the railroad. The last canal boat that passed the mill was in 1913. It was the 1913 flood that destroyed the canal system between Cleveland and Portsmouth, Ohio and consequently forced the end of its use.
The Wilson Family purchased the Alexander Mill and it has remained a family business. Thomas G. Wilson operated the mill during the first half of the 20th century. He maintained and preserved the historical milling equipment in his mill.
The Wilson Mill operated with water power from the canal until 1969. Today, the Wilson Feed Mill is operated by Thomas G. Wilson's son Tom. The animal feed grinders are electric-powered.
The mill site is interesting. The cut stone lock is still in fair condition. The canal is full of water and is channeled over the falls immediately behind the mill into the tailrace where the water is eventually channeled back into the canal. With some imagination, one can see how the water was channeled into the mill, through the turbine, and back out of the mill. (written 1989). Today, 2011, the canal and Lock #37, the headrace, sluice gates, and tail race are seriously deteriorated. The water area surrounding the mill has not been maintained. The wooden gate on Lock #37 is almost gone.
Wilson Feed Mill is a functioning business. The front of the mill looks like a traditional feed store. The back of the building allows a better view of the 3 1/2-story main mill building. It is covered with lap siding and painted white. All of the windows are 8 over 8 double-hung. There are several separate buildings and two additions to the main mill building. There is a one-story frame structure added on the roadside of the mill that has been incorporated into the mill store. There is also a two-story block addition on the back side of the main mill building.
The Cuyahoga Valley National Park surrounds Wilson Feed Mill. It would be in everyones best interest to have the park maintain our countries canal heritiage.
. ("Cuyahoga Valley National Park."; "Carries On Family Tradition."; Gieck; "Ohio's Only National Park.").