New water wheel at Lanterman’s Mill up and running

The water wheel at the iconic Mill Creek MetroParks’ Lanterman’s Mill was inoperable for a few years, but it has been replaced thanks to community and park officials’ efforts.

Soon, it will start grinding grain again.

The ribbon-cutting for the new wheel was Friday afternoon. About 25 community members and park officials gathered to see it in action. The nearby waterfall roared as it turned the wheel.

The wheel was last restored in 1985, said Steve Avery, the park district’s planning and operation director.

“Lanterman’s Mill holds a special place in the hearts of many park visitors, and it’s through projects and collaboration such as this one that allow it to continue to impact those visitors and many more,” said Aaron Young, MetroParks executive director.

The capital-improvement project replaced the wheel, the timber structure holding it up, and the penstock, which directs water to the mill.

The wheel, made of white oak, was crafted by B.E. Hassett-Millwrights Inc. of Louisville, Ky. Company employees disassembled the finished wheel at their shop, took it to the mill and reassembled it.

The project cost $182,000, and more than $80,000 was generated by the “Recipes of Youngstown” cookbook fundraiser.

Avery said in his 30 years with the park, the water wheel has been at the top of the list of major projects.

“The past is important to us, to not lose that history of where we came from,” he said. “When the settlers first came here, they took advantage of the industry and the water to make food, survive and to inhabit and sell the land,” he said.

People depended on the wheel for food in the 1800s, Young said.

“That’s the history and the lure of the wheel. To come down here and not just have something of aesthetic value, but to also see it function, you can’t underestimate the educational opportunity for visitors on how grain became flour, flour became bread, and so on,” he said.

The new wheel should last about 20 years before it needs repairs, Young said.

Park officials advertised bids for companies to craft the wheel about a year ago, but they first had to hire architects to draw blueprints. There were no original blueprints from the first wheel built a couple hundred years ago or the 1985 restoration.

Young said the project is a prime example of the need for capital improvements at the park and park officials’ ability to achieve their goals through collaboration and leadership.

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