Geocaching and Exploring Ohio

Donut Geotrail

\"\"The Coney Island fairgrounds adventure ended with an intense – but short – rain storm.  Everyone huddled in my truck as it poured rain and winds gusted around us.  But we snacked and waited for the worse of it to pass over us. Then we headed out to finish off the Donut Geotrail and explore Ohio\’s various regions.  We weren\’t sure what we would discover, but everyone was eager to explore.  And maybe eat a donut or two.  🙂

Instead, we found a demolished mill, a mysterious station marker, a damaged memorial, and several millstones.



Paper Mill Demolition


Having no idea where we were heading, we followed our GPS as it guided us to one of the GeoTrail\’s geocaches.  As we wound along a small two lane road, I rounded a bend and saw a giant rubble pile.  Knowing Tom\’s passion for abandoned buildings and ruins, I pulled the car over in a clearing by the road.  I didn\’t trust taking the kids to the grounds for very obvious reasons, so I stayed in the car with the kids while Tom grabbed my camera and went exploring.

I googled about the demolition and region.  I found that what we were seeing was the Harding Jones Paper Mill located in Excello, Ohio.  While I was reading about the mill, one of the kids asked me \”What\’s that?\” and pointed out the car window.  Nestled next to the clearing, somewhat buried in weeds, was a stone marker.  So naturally we got out to explore.

Morrell\’s Station


The stone marker is along the road we were driving, but was in a clearing that looked like it may be associated with something larger.  The maps indicated I was at the tail end of Excello Locks Metropark. Yet I could tell whatever this used to be – it was now overgrown and hard to determine the original trails or layout of the clearing.

The stone was solid and with clean edges – so it couldn\’t be very old. On the top was a carving of a log-cabin looking structure, with \”Morrell\’s Station 1791 – 1805\” etched under the building. On the front face was: \”Dr. Calvin Morrell built blockhouse 500 feet due west protecting settlers of Middletown area\”  – Middletown Historical Society.  My initial attempts to find the source of this memorial marker resulted only in hits regarding modern transportation stations named Morrell.

Miami Canal


We looked around and found an overgrown path leading towards another stone marker.  Thinking it might give us more information, we opted to stomp along the weeds and see what there was buried in the back.  We found another marker placed by the Middletown Historical Society, but this one was damaged.  It appears to read:

1826.  Excello Rocks.  First on Miami Canal.  Middletown Historical Society. 1970

Wait. What?  Miami?


Excello is the name of the town we were driving through.  Miami was an odd name to see way up in Ohio! Again, another quick google search I learned there was a Miami and Erie Canal that runs North/South through Ohio.  For some reason I simply never heard of the Miami & Erie Canal.  Huh.  I learned something new.  And apparently we were standing near the spot near the canal – and was the first stop on this particular canal.

Unfortunately the entire region seems to have fallen into neglect. The location isn\’t marked in any way.  We discovered these monuments only because I pulled over due to the demolished mill.  And what was there was being overtaken by vegetation.  I\’m curious to know if there are more markers or historical remnants buried further back in the woods?

Tom returned from exploring the rubble and shared the photos he took of the mill.  The place is in transition. I wonder what will become of this place and land in the next ten or more years?



The next accidental stop was in Miltonville, Ohio.  As we were driving along the road, I saw a brown Historical Marker sign at an intersection.  And since I tend to stop for Brown Sign (and in our area, Blue Historical signs!), I pulled into the fire department\’s parking lot where these monuments are placed. There was a structure erected nearby which had millstones mounted before a sign explaining their historical reference.  The kids thought these were odd exercise devices and instantly climbed them and tried to \’work out.\’



The millstones were from Bambo Harris Grist Mill.  Apparently Bambo was a freed black slave who built (1795) the first water driven gristmill in the area, along Elk Creek.  Huh. Another odd bit of history nestled in a quiet neighborhood.

So we played with the millstones, posed before the painting on the firehouse, read the historical signs, and then continued on our way.


Donut GeoTrail

We darted between geocaches for the rest of the day until it was time for a relaxing dinner.  We finished the GeoTrail, ate a good meal, and then eagerly crashed in our hotel rooms after a long and busy day.

Road Trip Destinations