GREENVILLE – The first donut stop on the Tour de Donut is one of Darke County’s most historic landmarks. Bear’s Mill was built in 1849 and is one of the last operating water-powered mills in Ohio. The site of the present mill, as well as the water rights, was granted to Major George Adams by Presidential Deed by President James Monroe in 1824. Bear’s Mill was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.
The mill has a backdrop of mowed lawns and tree-covered knolls bordering both sides of Greenville Creek, which meanders freely through the property. The water from the creek still provides power that turns the underwater turbines (44- and 30.5-inch) which power all of the milling machinery. A large and small dam creates a two-mile lake area from which water is channeled to the millrace. A pair of water gates enables the stream water to be diverted into the race to impel the turbines. A second outlet gate (located under the mill) enables the race to be drained when it is necessary to perform maintenance work on the turbines.
M.R. Cromer operated the mill longer than anyone else has to date–65 years in one family until his death in 1947.
Terry and Julie Clark purchased the Bear’s Mill property in 1978 and ran it independently for over 20 years. In 1999, the Clarks started a non-profit organization to keep the historic mill open for the public to enjoy. Bear’s Mill is now owned by the Friends of Bear’s Mill whose goal is to keep the mill open for touring and educational purposes.
In addition to enjoying the Mill, visitors are encouraged to discover one of many peaceful spots along the Mill’s walking paths is a very special Memorial constructed for those from Darke County who served and died in the Vietnam War. Terry, a Vietnam Veteran, created the memorial using the old dome from the Darke County Courthouse. Visitors can also explore the dam and enjoy the peacefulness of the Greenville Creek.
Be sure to take in the art on display and visit the Mill’s shop. Bear’s Mill is currently featuring the art work of Jane Dippold’s collage landscape paintings of Ohio farms and Jay Harrison’s lamps created out of vintage bottles, old faucet handles, and steel pipe.
The Tour de Donut will have a shuttle available for riders who purchase items at the Mill and have them taken back to the start/finish line.
Bicyclists will invade Bear’s Mill as part of the annual Tour de Donut. This will be the first donut stop on the course.