In August 1987, I completed my first book Covered Bridges Today, an historical, pictorial documentation of 412 covered bridges in the United States. During my adventures with covered bridges I discovered many interesting old mills, wooden and stone dams, millraces, millponds, old waterwheels, millstones, and old milling equipment. After completing Covered Bridges Today, I decided to research and write about old mills.
I began researching specific mills including all of the old mills in Ohio. When I began researching covered bridges, I first visited and studied the covered bridges in Ohio and that is where I received my educational foundation in covered bridges. With the research completed for the Ohio mills, I feel the same way. Ohio's mills have taught me how a mill functions, why each mill is so different, and the technical aspects of milling. Ohio once again has proved to be my training ground. This time Ohio's mills provided the education.
Ohio's Old Mills Today documents 57 mills with photographs and an historical account. The photographs show the exterior of the mills and milling equipment. The historical documentation includes the builder, date of construction, dates of operation, types of operations, reconstruction's, types of power used, types of waterwheels and general success or failure of the mill. The historical documentation also includes information on the condition of the mills as of 1987-1990. I am re-visiting Ohio's old mills as of May 2011 and I plan to update my web pages accordingly. Milling equipment is identified. The presence of waterwheels, millraces, millponds, flumes, and wheelpits are recognized. Each historical account includes directions to find the mill.
Twenty-one mills are in the "Notes on Other Mills" page. I included the "Notes on Other Mills" page because I wanted Ohio's Old Mills to be a comprehensive study. The mills listed in the "Notes" are found in other directories and I did not want to ignore their existence. The "Notes" presents the mills' current status. The mills noted in this chapter no longer exists, is not accessible to the public or does not reflect the historical significance determined for this study. In other words, I do not see any reason for anyone to invest any time or energy in trying to visit the 21 mills in the "Notes" page. For reasons explained in the text, these mills are just not worth the trip.
The Terminology is an alphabetized list of terms that are used throughout this website. I have also included terms in the glossary that are not found in this text but that are commonly used when talking about mills. When milling terms are introduced in the text, I try to define their meaning. If you still question the meaning of the word, look it up in the Terminology and maybe the definition found there will help. The terminology list is by no means a complete list used in the milling trade. It is a list of terms that will help you understand how a mill functions.
THIS WEBSITE AS A TOOL
I would like to think that once you read this website, you would want to visit some of Ohio's fascinating mills. If you wish to seek out some of the most interesting mills, refer to the section "Unique Characteristics of Ohio's Mills".
If you just want the adventure of exploring historical sites, visit all of Ohio's mills. You will not be disappointed. I have tried my best to describe and share with you all of the really neat things that I discovered at each of the mills, but I am sure there are many treasures that I did not find and are just waiting to be discovered by you.
Although I believe my directions to be excellent, I strongly suggest that you take the directions I have and orient them into your GPS. As I re-visit eash mill site, I will identify latitude and longitude and update any assistance regarding current roads etc. If you are planning to see several mills in one day, pack your lunch because you will often find yourself in an area that doesn't offer fast food. It is fun to pack a lunch and eat at a dam site or along a millrace. If insects bother you, bring some repellent. You will need it. Always start your day with a full tank of gas. Your GPS will be your best friend :)
I hope that you enjoy reading about Ohio's old mills, but more importantly, I hope that you take this website and use it as a tool to search for the old mills. Take the opportunity to visit them, photograph them and explore the surrounding area. The experience is rewarding and great fun! If you discover any details about the old mills you would like to share, please email me. I would love to hear from you.
Enjoy what Ohio's rich history has to offer. Take a camera and a friend and visit the old mills. Happy travels!