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Beiber / Wigton Mill Ruins

From 1843 to 1844 Shubal W. Knapp and John Blinn built a three-story frame gristmill. In 1848 Knapp and Blinn sold the mill to George Beiber for $3,000. James Beiber and George Beiber's son, assumed the operation of the mill after his father's death. James continued to expand his land holdings through purchases from family members. He acquiring over 100 acres adjacent to the mill site.

James Beiber's gristmill operations were very successful. In 1876 - 1877, James Beiber and his brother Henry built an addition to the frame gristmill. On the north side of the gristmill they erected a 3 1/2 story, stone mill with a full basement and foundation. The new stone mill housed a sawmill on the first floor. The remaining space in the huge mill was never used for any milling process. The gristmill, however, continued to operate successfully.

James Beiber found himself in financial difficulty in 1880 when he could not pay for the stone mill's construction. He was in debt to William H. Marvin for $13,098. Beiber tried unsuccessfully to pay Marvin, but his beautiful stone mill was auctioned at the Delaware County Courthouse on March 9, 1989. Jesse Eury paid $2,505 for the Beiber Stone Mill.

Jesse Eury did not operate the mill due to poor health. Eventually the gristmill was placed back into operation. Elmer A. Wigton was the miller in 1896 and eventually became the owner. Wigton was a bachelor and lived in the mill. While Wigton operated the mill, the stone dam was destroyed in a flood. Wigton constructed a log and brush dam but it too was ruined by a flood. Elmer Wigton sold the mill in 1923.

Subsequently, the Beiber Mill has had numerous owners. The old frame gristmill met the fate of many other mills and was devastated by fire. Unfortunately, due to the proximity of the stone mill, it too was destroyed. The stone mill lost its roof, floors and massive beam structure to the fire.

Today, the Beiber Mill stands as one of the most impressive mills ever constructed in Ohio. The walls are 3' thick and are constructed with beautifully cut limestone. The local area is famous for its limestone and the mill is evidence of the skilled stone masons of Delaware County in 1876. The side that faces the river is still intact and provides the visitor with the impression that the mill was a gigantic structure even by today's construction standards. The other three sides of the building have deteriorated, but are still beautiful. The structure sits on the Olentangy River and has braved many floods. Three stone arches, one on the north side and two on the riverside indicate the route the water was channeled to power the waterwheel. The millrace and basement where the water flowed through the wheel have been covered with silt from the river. The stone arches are still visible several feet above the silt.

The photographs depict the magnificence of the Beiber Mill but it cannot provide you with the awe-inspiring atmosphere that you can experience with a visit to the site. This is one of the most architecturally significant historic structures left in Ohio. It is currently owned by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. They would like to restore the building, but there are no available funds. (Brozek).

DIRECTIONS: Delaware County. Liberty Township. From Delaware, south on U.S. 23, 2 miles, right on Chapman Road, 1/2 miles, on right on the Olentangy River.

 

Beiber Mill Map.  Delaware County, Ohio
Beiber / Wigton Mill, Delaware, Ohio.  Exterior fron wall.
This is the view of the mill that faces the Olentangy River. It is the back side of the mill.
The cut-limestone walls are three feet thick.
Beiber / Wigton Mill, Delaware, Ohio.

Click here to see Google Earth. At Google Earth you can identify where the mill is situated in respect to the river, road and north. You see the chimney in Google Earth and then you can easily identify where each of the following pictures are in relationship to the river and road.
The front of the mill is on the right side of this corner depiction.

Beiber / Wigton Mill, Delaware, Ohio.
The front of the building is on the right of the corner. Notice the river can be seen on the far left of this picture. Notice where the chimney is located in respect to the front of the mill. If you look through the bramble there is an elevated dirt road leading into the front door.
Beiber / Wigton Mill, Delaware, Ohio.
At this point you can tell that all four sides of the mill still retains its cut-stone stucture. From this perspective, the river is on the left. The road is on the right. This side of the mill faces southwest. I think it is cool that you can see the beautifully shapped windows through the other side of the building.
Beiber / Wigton Mill, Delaware, Ohio.
The brick chimney faces east. The front of the building is on the left and the northeast side of the building in on the right. Scrub trees cover the northeast side of the building.
Beiber / Wigton Mill, Delaware, Ohio.
As you face this wall, the river is on your left and the road is on your right. This is the southwest wall with a close up view.
Beiber / Wigton Mill, Delaware, Ohio.
Southwest wall. River on left. Road on right.
Beiber / Wigton Mill, Delaware, Ohio.
This is a truly spectacular mill ruin. It was constructed in 1877 with 3 1/2 stories, a full basement and a foundation. Today the 3 feet wide walls remain in evidence of beautiful, stone mason expertise.
Beiber / Wigton Mill, Delaware, Ohio.
Corner faces due south.
Beiber / Wigton Mill, Delaware, Ohio.
Close up of the northwest face paralleling the Olentangy River. Here you can identify the stone sills at each window and the brick and/or stone arches.
Beiber / Wigton Mill, Delaware, Ohio.
The wall facing the river side is the only one that displays the 3 1/2 stories. This is an excellent perspective of the cut limestone.
Beiber / Wigton Mill, Delaware, Ohio.
These pictures were photographed in 1990. I continue to remember almost each step I took as I walked around the mill. I was extremely fortunate to have an historian who lived near the area. She discussed the mill's history pointed out many aspects of the structure I would have missed. The building is so large. I remember how I walked around the perimeter thinking, ". . . it's tall, it's really tall." If I have an opportunity to view the Beiber Mill in the future I will definitely take my measuring tape. The shear size of the building is massive.
Beiber / Wigton Mill, Delaware, Ohio.

Is this a cool pictures or what?
Due to the fire, prior to1923 and before 1945, everything inside the mill burned including the massive support beams of native oak and walnut along with the thick wooden floor planks. The devastation left only the 3-foot thick limestone walls with the 5 story shell.
To date I have not found any research that states the date of the fire. I will keep looking.

Beiber / Wigton Mill, Delaware, Ohio.
This photograph (1990) is from the other side of the Olentangy River.
Beiber / Wigton Mill, Delaware, Ohio.
This photograph (1990) is from the other side of the Olentangy River.
Beiber / Wigton Mill, Delaware, Ohio.
Beiber / Wigton Mill, Delaware, Ohio.
Beiber / Wigton Mill, Delaware, Ohio.
Beiber / Wigton Mill, Delaware, Ohio.
The river has silted-in the lower level of the mill. You can see only where the tops of the arches remain visible.
Beiber / Wigton Mill, Delaware, Ohio.
This is one of the three doors on the front of the mill. The doors have been secured shut and no one can enter.
This is one of my favorites mills (mill ruins) extent in the United States. The historian that I spoke of earlier, worked and found several hundred thousand dollars for grants for Beiber Mill. The monies supported the mill to maintain its current status. It is considered the only stabilized ruin in Ohio.
Beiber Mill is owned and maintained by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
If you have an opportunity to visit the Columbus area, you must see this historical old mill. It will prove to be a delightful outing you and your family will remember forever. Don't forget hiking shoes and if you are there in the summer, bug spray. Have a Great Time!

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