Thursday, April 27, 2017

White's Mills in Athens, OH

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You are looking at where a 10-foot dam used to stand across the Hocking River In Athens, OH. If you look in the lower-right corner, you can see the cut-sandstone foundation built for the original 1816 mill by Captain Silas Bingman. Looking at the bottom of that foundation, behind the bush, you can see a steel plate. This plate covers the water intake. You can still see the vertical board next to it that would have held one side of a sluice gate when it was operational.

Since the water flow of the Hocking River is rather low, you can see the sandstone cap from which he cut the stones for his foundation.. He built a 10-foot high wooden crib dam. The person I talked to in the store said they made the dam with 10-foot rectangles of big wood beams and filled the wood crib with debris. In 1895 the wooden water waterwheel was replaced by a turbine. The dam was lined with concrete in 1900. The mill has had a few dam rebuilds because of floods, one fire that burned it down to the sandstone foundation, and a few owners. [scificincinnati]

Ed White bought it in 1911. Given it was started in 1816 and White did not buy it until 1911, I don't know why the date on the building is 1809. [scificincinnati] The dam was last rebuilt after a flood in the 1970s. Milling operations stopped in the 1980s. It is now a garden and gift shop. (For example, it sells books about Athens and Southeast Ohio and some art work.)

The following video has several scenes of the milling equipment that was inside the building.

Note the parking lot and wood fence on the other side of the river. Those are locations from which I took some pictures that are later in this blog.
They are proud of their old-mill history and have several photos hanging in the store of old mills, including some of their own. Look at the huge hydraulic jump created by their 10-foot dam.
This is a view from the Union Street Bridge that I used to get to the parking lot on the other side of the river.
This is a view from that parking lot. This was on a Sunday and the parking lot was otherwise empty. So I was not occupying a spot needed by a customer. There were a lot of No Trespassing signs along the edge of the parking lot. They don't want fisherman taking any risks here.
Obviously, I walked a downstream a bit to get this shot.
A closeup of the cut-sandstone foundation.
A view looking the other direction from the same spot to provide context. The next photo was taken after I walked downstream of that red building.
This is the view further downstream past the curve in the river.
This building is owned by the Athens County Habitat for Humanity. Their office on the right was closed, but the entrance is open dawn to dusk so that users of the Hockhocking Adena Bikeway can use the restrooms.
It looks like a former depot with the bay window for the agent's office and the bay being offset a little to one side of the building. But the former B&O+NYC+HV depot was closer to downtown. So the ancestry of this building remains a mystery.
This is the view from the wood fence. I could not figure out how to legally get a view of the falls without that center tree obstructing the view.
The next day I was headed to the mill to show my wife what they were selling. There were some thunderstorms in the area the previous night, and I was amazed by how quickly and significantly one rain storm changed the flow level of the river. In the Midwest it takes several days of rains and/or snowmelt  to impact the river flow. And the bigger the river, the bigger the delay before the rain from the watershed reaches the river. The Hocking River is surounded by big (by Midwest standards) hills, and it is obvious that the rain of the entire watershed quickly washes down into the river.

So I walked downstream to get another set of pictures to capture this higher flow of water.

From the previous days photos, we know that there is a "trough" in the middle of the river where the water normally flows. When the river is high, this trough allows more cubic-feet-per-second to pass in the middle. I took this wide angle to try to capture that you could actually see the water "hump" up in the middle of the downstream part to accommodate all of the water that was flowing through the trough. This is another form of a hydraulic jump --- water above the normal water level to accommodate a faster flow of water into a slower pool of water.

Compare this downstream view with the one I took above. We saw no water turbulence downstream the previous day but we see plenty when the river is "humping."
I was shocked as to high high the hydraulic jump was given how low this waterfall is. So I took a video to capture that hydraulic jump and the roar of the water.

Then I took another video from downstream to try to capture the "hump" of water in the middle of the river do to the hydraulic jump caused by the larger volume of water flowing through the "trough" next to the sandstone cap. You can see that the hump is higher in the middle than at the bank quite a ways downstream and that some of the water flowing to the bank of the river then flows upstream to create a whirlpool.

I see both the satellite sites I use caught the river when the flow was even lower than the first day I visited.
Google Satellite

Bing Satellite

When I took the picture furthest upstream above, I discovered I still had the ISO for the camera set at the highest level of 6400 when I took the pictures of those photos that were hanging inside the building. The above photo was after I reset the camera for outdoor pictures at ISO 400. This is the picture I took at ISO 6400. At web resolutions, granularity is not an issue. But there is better color contrast at ISO 400.

As I walked back to the van, I retook pictures with the more appropriate ISO of 400. Since it was cloudy enough that the high shutter speed and f-stop of the camera was able to avoid over-exposure with ISO 6400, there is not a lot of difference. But I do this photo dump of the ISO 400 photos anyhow because it does provide some more views of two of my favorite topics --- old buildings and flowing water.

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