Ontario Abandoned Places

Documenting Canada's Abandoned Structures

Buttermilk Falls Sawmill

Ontario : Napanee
Location #10914

Location Owner:RogerM
Creation Date: 8/12/2014
Last Updated: 8/12/2014

Before there were roads, there were rivers.

The Salmon River was used to transport logs south from the forests where the trees were felled, and a number of sawmills were constructed along its length. Many of these mills were built of limestone, and the mortar used was of poor quality. Today, these mills are falling down and should be explored only with considerable caution. You don't need a stone wall falling on you.

Sawmills required a strong water flow, and were often built just down stream from a waterfall or cascade. Such is the case here at Forest Mills. The top of the falls is dammed, forming a mill pond, and the remains of a penstock system can be found which allowed the mill turbine to be driven by the water pressure created at a point at the bottom of the falls.

There are a couple of old wooden sheds which may have been the original lumber storage sheds, more recently re-purposed as farm buildings.

There is another smaller mill building on the south side of the river, probably a grist mill. It sits on private property. The pool at the bottom of the falls is used as a swimming hole.

This is a very picturesque location. Just be careful near the old walls.

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Status: Abandoned | Category: Mill/Foundry

None listed

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Province: Ontario

Egregious says:
8/15/2014 10:08:03 PM

Awesome location. I still find it hard to believe so many new locations can be found all the time. Some very nice shots. Hopefully whoever buys the property can incorporate the ruins into an amazing patio or garden.

ground state says:
8/13/2014 12:43:15 PM

RE: Looks to have been partly restored, but it is on private property.

He must have succeeded; apparently he was producing enough power to sell back to hydro, and he was even looking at installing a second generator.

RogerM says:
8/13/2014 11:32:45 AM

That would be the grist mill on the other side. Looks to have been partly restored, but it is on private property.

The sawmill was using a penstock, not the classic waterwheel race. This type of structure used a crude water turbine. There is no evidence of attempts to restore the penstock. (Watch for my next mill location. I have a picture of the probable type of turbine used.)

ground state says:
8/12/2014 10:14:17 PM

About 5 years ago, the owner here actually got the water wheel infrastructure working again. Was a geocache here at one time hidden in the rocks.

clay70 says:
8/12/2014 6:25:01 PM

love it...reminds me of the mill at Petworth ghost town

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On 8/20/2014 6:40:05 PM user RogerM changed the following: description
On 8/12/2014 7:31:28 PM user RogerM changed the following: description
On 8/12/2014 2:36:38 PM user RogerM created gallery : August 2014
On 8/12/2014 2:36:04 PM user RogerM changed the following: description