History of Bear's Mill
by Brenda Krekeler
Bear's Mill site was established in 1832 when Major George Adams built a sawmill and subsequently a corn cracker mill. The present 3 1/2-story mill was built in 1848 by Moses and Manning Hart. The final completion of the building was done by Gabriel Baer, the new owner and an accomplished miller from Pennsylvania. The mill presently carries Gabriel Baer's name but somewhere the vowels were inverted and today the mill is known as BEAR'S MILL.
One of the few functioning gristmills left in Ohio, Bear's Mill and the surrounding mill grounds are exquisitely maintained and graciously shared with the public. Privately owned and operated, Bear's Mill is water-powered with two turbines located under the mill's first floor. Measuring 44" and 30.5", the turbines receive water from the Greenville Creek. About 1/2 mile upstream there is a large concrete dam that creates a huge, beautiful millpond in the stream. Water from the millpond is channeled into a millrace that parallels Greenville Creek to the mill. Greenville Creek creates a 9' head of water at the mill. The water drops into and through the turbines and exits via a tailrace on the opposite side of the mill back into Greenville Creek. The 30.5" turbine has the date of 1862 cast in the crown plate. Both turbines provide 65 horsepower.
The mill grounds are maintained so visitors can walk between the millrace and creek to see the dam and the sluice gate that maintains the water flow into the millrace.
Bear's Mill building is nothing less than spectacular. The exterior is covered with the original lap siding that Gabriel Baer put on the mill in 1849! Made from American Black Walnut, the siding adds a provocative nature to the old mill. The structure has an extremely textured appearance. The weathered, charcoal-gray siding, the small 6 over 6 double-hung sash windows, and the grain handling doors on all four levels, create a delightful experience.
The interior of the mill is equally dramatic. The entire 3 1/2 floors are accessible to the public. It is full of antique milling equipment. The first floor has a line shaft that transfers the power from the turbines up to the three sets of French buhrstones and to the rest of the mill. The first floor also holds a generator that powers the lights for the mill store. The second floor is where the milling, sacking and barreling are accomplished. The original three sets of French buhrstones that were placed here in 1850 have been maintained and are still grinding today. There were five roller mills installed in 1887. Three of them are still found in the mill. Storage bins, a flour purifier, power transfer machinery (belts, pulleys, and gears), and sifting equipment are found on the third floor. The loft has the corn screener, scourers, aspirator and top line shaft. The winch hauls the grain up to the loft and is powered by the turbines. The winch is fully functioning and lifts the grain from the ground outside to the third-story loft with ease. All of the antique machinery at Bear's Mill, whether it is functioning or on display as a museum piece, is excellently preserved. Bear's Mill is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The mill store, on the first floor, sells yellow cornmeal, whole-wheat cake flour, unbleached white cake flour, buckwheat flour, rye flour, bran, and pancake mixes. Bear's Mill Pottery is produced by Julie Clark. Additionally, various types of art are on display in the Gallery area throughout the season.
Now owned and managed by the Friends of Bear's Mill.
Visit Bear's Mill website: http://www.bearsmill.com
("Bear's Mill."; "Bear's Mill Since 1849."; Clark, Julie; "Historical Bear's Mill.")
DIRECTIONS: Darke County. Adams Township. From Greenville, S.R. 36 east 3.5 miles, south (right) on Arcanum-Bear's Mill Road, .25 mile on the right at 6450 Arcanum-Bear's Mill Road.