EAST LIVERPOOL, Ohio – Gaston’s Mill in Beaver Creek State Park is offering custom grain grinding for local farmers.
The mill is more than a century old and is the only water-powered grist mill in Columbiana County.
It is owned and operated by the Columbiana Forest and Parks Council.
Six volunteers run the mill on Saturday and Sunday, according to council member Becky Jones.
Grinding. Grain must be dry and clean, and grinding is done by appointment only.
As long as there is water in the mill pond, but water levels are not too high, the mill can operate.
They will be grinding now through October and into November if they have the demand, Jones said.
Mill volunteers grind wheat, buckwheat and corn. It takes about an hour and a half to do 100 pounds of grain.
They are charging $25 per hundred pounds for the grinding.
The grain can be ground to different textures upon request, Jones said, but it is difficult to make exact textures.
The farmers profit from not having to go far to have their grain ground, the council profits, and the park itself profits, Jones said.
Proceeds help maintain the mill and surrounding pioneer village.
History. The mill was built in the 1830s and ran until World War I.
At its peak in the 1800s, it would grind 196 barrels of flour a day. Most of the flour was taken by wagon to Wellsville, Ohio.
The state of Ohio bought the mill in 1949 and the council started restoration in 1964.
They tried hard to make the mill look and function like it did when it was built, finishing restorations in 1971.
The mill started as a water-powered mill, but through the years it was driven by gas, steam and electric, and now it is back to water power.
The mill was built by Samuel Conkle, and is named for Philander Gaston, who owned the mill the longest.
Structure. The mill is two and half stories tall with a sandstone basement. The grain is delivered on the second level, then taken to the first floor to be ground. From there, it is elevated to the third floor for sifting.
The wheel, 10 feet wide by 6 feet in diameter, powers a log shaft, enabling the elevators and other equipment to operate.
Funds. The council members keep the mill running through private donations, a grant from the Columbiana County Historical Association, proceeds from the grain they sell at the mill, and fundraisers, such as pancake breakfasts.
The council buys grain from local farms, grinds and sells it in 3-pound bags for $3.
They have cornmeal, whole wheat and buckwheat flour for sale. A pamphlet of recipes comes with each purchase.
“Some people buy it for gifts at Christmas or other times; some buy the flour because they say it tastes better,” Jones said.
To learn more about the council or to get grain ground at the mill contact Becky Jones at 330-549-3438.