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Schumacher's Cascade Mill~Akron,Ohio

Location: Akron, Ohio
Date: 1868-1923
Project Client: Cascade Locks Park Association
Akron Project Number: 2003-02-R

Under contract with the Cascade Locks Park Association, the Community Archaeology Program conducted Phase I and Phase II archaeological investigations at the Schumacher Cascade Mill site (33 Su 388) in Akron, Summit County, Ohio.  The property is adjacent to Lock 14 on the Ohio & Erie Canal at the last of the Cascade Locks; a series of closely spaced canal locks specially constructed to lift boats traveling on the canal up and down the precipitous slope. The western edge and northwest corner of the property is occupied by the concrete lock structure and an associated waste weir. This lot, once occupied by Schumacher's Cascade Mill, is now not much more than a small grassy area surrounding a small woodlot that has grown up around the debris that has collected there over the last century.  When we initially assessed the lot and its potential for geophysical survey, we were curious to see the geophysical result caused by several major disturbances to the historic site, caused by the construction of a high voltage electrical tower, a mostly buried concrete conduit encapsulating electric lines, and the encroachment of a former asphalt company parking lot/dump that loomed above the rear of the site.  The Canal Towpath Trail had crossed this property until the recent construction of a bridge on the west side of the canal, traversing the steep slope. 

Cascade Mill site 2002
Grassy area of site 33Su388 viewed from the north.
Cascade Mill site 2002
Overgrown waste weir with tower in background
The first building constructed on the project site was The Cascade Grist Mill, it was built by  in 1840 by William Mitchell. Ownership changed hands a few times before Ferdinand Schumacher purchased the mill in 1868.
By 1876 he had invested heavily in the structure by constructing a state-of-the-art water power system, including a 36 foot "overshot" wheel.
He later built a coal fired powerhouse with 125 ft. brick chimney. 
By 1891 , the once busy and powerful mill was converted to a warehouse for lack of access to the railroad. A Sanborn Fire Insurance map dated 1904 indicates that the building was Vacant and dismantled and "owned by the Akron-Cleveland Fast Line Electric RR Co. to be converted into Electric Power Sta".
The Akron Beacon Journal reported that on March 27, 1904 whatever was left of the building was destroyed by fire.
A 1921 plat map of the property identifies the property owner as Quaker Oats Company, and shows no building on the site.

Cascade Mill c.1880
Active mill c.1880
An article written for the July 21, 1925 edition of the Akron Beacon Journal reminisces about the mill, stating that a chimney was still standing at that time.  The article was accompanied by a photograph of the ruins of the mill wheel and chimney that was taken in 1923, “just before the wheel was torn out” Remains of mill c.1923
Photo from Akron Beacon Journal, 1925
We wanted to know if there was anything left of the structure of the old mill and if they could be mapped using geophysical methods such as electrical resistivity in spite of the disturbances to the site?  The image to the right is the result of the resistance survey. Portions of the foundation of the upper left corner of the building were evident in dataset and were verified upon excavation. 
This information is an important source of information for the Cascade Locks Park Association in the development of the park.
resistivity data with plan
Resistivity data

The Schumacher Cascade Mill is a contributing site to the Cascade Locks Historic District that was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1992.  This project was conducted for compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1996 (as amended).


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Last modified: 04/16/09