Sawmills, gristmills and waterpower shaped a region for Native Americans and settlers, carving a country out of the Ohio wilderness bounded by rivers and the Great Black Swamp. The 1910’s ballad, "Down By The Old Mill Stream" by local songwriter Tell Taylor is a signature of the times, giving its name to the scenic byway.
Since 1998, designation of a scenic byway in the Blanchard River Valley along the "pathway of the pioneers" has been a cooperative effort of a public-private partnership. The Ohio Department of Transportation recognized the scenery and heritage of Ohio’s last frontier with a prior designation of US 224 as a state "scenic highway". Then in 2004, ODOT assistance helped to create a two-county steering committee supported by local agencies, government officials, business / civic leaders and inspired volunteers.
The Old Mill Stream Scenic Byway stretches 52 miles over Hancock and Putnam counties, linking the Lincoln Highway National Historic Byway to small villages, parks and landmarks. The scenic byway is more than a road; it is an experience with Ohio’s heritage and opportunities for travel as a connection for people - it’s a Sunday Drive, every day, all seasons of the year!
Points of interest
View farmsteads and forests along the Blanchard River on meandering roadways that link cozy villages such as Glandorf, Gilboa and Mt. Blanchard. Vistas of the valley, all full of seasonal color against far off sunsets, are enriched by spring and summer wildflowers; and autumn foliage trips to the country.
Discover rolling ridges of old glacial Lake Erie now full of oak, hickory and maple trees with diverse wildlife mixing with open fields of the watershed. Many are preserved in river parks as Blanchard and Liberty Landings to see along the way.
Learn about the Ottawa and Wyandot Indians and German settlers that built their lives in this area with many of their landmarks still visible today. See old Victorian homes, traces of Johnny Appleseed and living history brought to life at McKinnis Historic Farmhouse. Appreciate the benefits of an oil boom era that brought prosperity to Northwest Ohio, as well as famous hometown heroes and inventors.
For fun and fitness, travelers can stop for picnics at Island Park and checkout the pool’s umbrella waterfall, rent canoes and kayaks at Riverside Park, or go camping at Riverbend Recreation Area. Join in local pastimes by watching ball games at Village Parks along the river. Many sites are accessible for all ages and abilities, with bikepaths and hiking trails and are alive with seasonal events.
Stroll through artists displays at Arts Walks in Findlay, look up at historic architecture of Ottawa’s storefronts and restaurants, and check out stonework and stained glass of the two Courthouses, plus St. John the Baptist and St. Michael the Archangel Churches. The religion, craftsmanship, and diversity of settlers frame a culture of caring along the Old Mill Stream Scenic Byway from beautiful gardens, homes, and cemeteries.