Isaac Ludwig Mill: 60 HP Erie Steam Engine Helps Power Scenic Destination

Star 5 HP steam engine also found at mill beside Erie Canal

| Spring 2007

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    A scenic view of the Isaac Ludwig Mill in Providence, Ohio. The restored, water-powered grist and flour mill, sawmill and power generating station is situated right on the Erie Canal at Lock 44. It employs an Erie 60 HP steam engine and an 1880-1890 Star 5 HP oil drilling engine.
    Don Voelker
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     Mules Molly and Sally pull the Volunteer, a restored canal boat, at the Isaac Ludwig Mill in Providence, Ohio.
    Don Voelker
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    The machine shop at the Isaac Ludwig Mill has an overhead line shaft that goes to the back of the shop. The shaft is belted to the mill's 1880-1890 Star 5 HP oil drilling engine.
    Don Voelker
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     The 1890 Erie 60 HP steam engine can be used to power the sawmill at the Isaac Ludwig Mill in Providence, Ohio, with a change of the belts on the line shafts.
    Don Voelker
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    The 1890 Erie 60 HP steam engine was built by the Erie City Iron Works of Erie, Pa. Before it was donated to Toledo Metroparks and brought to the Isaac Ludwig Mill in Providence, Ohio, it spent 20 years under water, with only the top of the flywheel and the governor flyball visible.
    Don Voelker
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    The circa 1885 Star 5 HP vertical steam engine at the Isaac Ludwig Mill in Providence, Ohio, had been sitting in an old oil field near Signet, Ohio, hidden in an old building. It features an unusual, Stephenson-like reversing gear.
    Don Voelker
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    The 5 HP Star vertical steam engine is a reliable source of power for the machine shop at the Isaac Ludwig Mill in Providence, Ohio. All the machinery in the shop falls within a period between the late 1800s and early 1900s.
    Don Voelker
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    The old boiler at the Isaac Ludwig Mill in Providence, Ohio, was originally purchased in a junkyard. It was set to be replaced in the winter with a new unit capable of providing the 150 pounds of steam pressure required for the engines to develop full power.
    Don Voelker
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     The band saw at the Isaac Ludwig Mill in Providence, Ohio, was made in the late 1800s.
    Don Voelker
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    The gear drives from the 160 HP turbine at the Isaac Ludwig Mill in Providence, Ohio. The large gear is hooked to the shaft going down to the turbine.
    Don Voelker
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    The Monarch lathe, made in 1906, in the machine shop at the Isaac Ludwig Mill in Providence, Ohio.
    Don Voelker
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    A Williams & White power hammer, donated by General Motors, at the Isaac Ludwig Mill in Providence, Ohio.
    Don Voelker
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    The old generator and control panel at the Isaac Ludwig Mill in Providence, Ohio. They were used from 1900 to 1917.
    Don Voelker
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    This Barnes drill press, made in the late 1800s, features a 25-inch throat. It's among the period equipment in the machine shop at the Isaac Ludwig Mill in Providence, Ohio.
    Don Voelker

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The scenic Isaac Ludwig Mill in Providence, Ohio, is a, restored, water-powered grist and flour mill, sawmill and power generating station. And better yet, the mill employs two steam engines – an Erie 60 HP and an 1880-1890 Star 5 HP oil drilling engine­.

Adjacent to the mill, two mules, Molly and Sally, pull the Volunteer, a replica 1876 canal boat through the restored mile-long section of the Erie Canal and Lock 44. Along the way, re-enactors take tourist passengers back in time during their one-hour journey. It all adds up to a “must see” for steam engine fans and lovers of history.

History of the Isaac Ludwig Mill

Situated alongside the Maumee River, the mill operated from 1868 to 1970 as both a sawmill and a grist mill. In 1974, the mill became the property of the Providence Metropark System of Toledo. The park system immediately began the restoration process, taking the mill, the adjacent Miami Erie Canal and Lock 44 back to the heydays of the early 1900s.

The mill was powered by water turbine under normal conditions, but when a flood occurred the water would rise and could no longer provide the head needed to run the turbines. To counter this, in 1900 the mill owner installed a steam engine, which could provide power and allow the mill to continue operating under flood conditions.



In small towns and rural farm areas everyone knows their neighbors, and sooner or later stories of anything of interest will spread throughout the community. This was the case with the two steam engines installed at the mill.
But those who knew of the engines didn’t want to see these pieces of history end up in the scrap yard, and their location had remained hidden for many years. Until, that is, the Isaac Ludwig Mill restoration provided a place for the steam engines to be viewed and enjoyed by those interested in preserving these relics of the past.

Laird Henderson, Toledo Metroparks mill curator and historian says, “In the middle 1970s the park department heard stories that a large stationary steam engine was still in the basement of an abandoned Toledo, Ohio, laundry.” Upon investigation, they found an Erie 60 HP steam engine that had been built in 1890 by the Erie City Iron Works, Erie, Pa. The engine had been under water for 20 years with only the top of the flywheel and the governor flyball visible. The owner agreed to donate it to Toledo Metroparks, so arrangements were made to have the engine lifted from the mud and water, cleaned and brought to the Isaac Ludwig Mill.



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