Rock Mill Park in Lancaster, Ohio encompasses the historic Rock Mill, a stunning grist mill built in 1824 above the Hocking River Falls and the scenic Rock Mill Covered Bridge, constructed in 1901.
Standing 90 feet above the gorge of the falls, Rock Mill stands as a testament to the rich agricultural heritage of Fairfield County, whose “fair fields” attracted so many brave pioneers in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. In the early 1800s Rock Mill was one of a dozen mills in the area whose power source was the Hocking River. The mill was in operation grinding flour and corn into wheat and meal as late at 1905.
For nearly 100 years, Rock Mill sat vacant. In 2003, Robert and Rita Stebelton donated the mill to the Fairfield County Historical Parks Commission.
After an extensive archeological excavation, which included the discovery of Rock Mill’s original mill stones, the Historical Parks began extensive repair and restoration to the building in 2006, two years after the dilapidated structure was acquired by the parks district.
Through the combined resources of private donations, grants and government funding, the Historical Parks have been able to repair the mill’s exterior and rebuilt its four above-grade floors and two subfloors. In September 2012, the Historical Parks added a replica of the mill’s 26-foot-in-diameter all-wooden waterwheel, the largest of its kind in the state.
Now, the $1.2 million restoration is nearly complete, meaning the six-story facility could soon start grinding grain for the first time in over a century. They expect to resume operations as a working water-powered gristmill by Thanksgiving of 2016.
With its two sets of grinding stones, Rock Mill has the ability to produce 300 pounds of flour an hour.