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Employee writes book about earlier form of water power

by on March 25, 2015
AEP employee Ken Drenten (right) talks with visitors at an author book signing event at a Zanesville bookstore about his self-published book, “Waterwheelin’: A Travelers’ Guide to Ohio Mills.”

ZANESVILLE, Ohio — Several years ago, AEP employee Ken Drenten wanted to find out more about Ohio’s mills in order to visit a few of them with his family. The Corporate Communications consultant, who lives in Zanesville, had visited several of them, and his wife’s interest had sparked his own further.

Drenten’s wife, Sandy, has a special interest in mills with waterwheels, such as the one at Ye Olde Mill in Utica, Ohio — where the couple was married — and at Rock Mill in Lancaster, Ohio.

“I couldn’t find what I was looking for — a single website or publication that had all the information I wanted in one handy place,” he said. “Over the years, I had taken a number of photos of old barns and mills for fun, and I had some source material at hand, so I thought, why don’t I just write something myself?”

Ye Olde Mill, in Utica, Ohio, the home of Velvet Ice Cream Co., is among the 27 mills featured in the book.Photo by: Ken Drenten

After more than two years of planning, visiting mills, taking numerous photos, talking with and corresponding with people, writing, editing, and designing, the result was a self-published, 101-page book, “Waterwheelin’: A Travelers’ Guide to Ohio Mills.”

The book provides information about visiting 27 mills that are open and operating for people to visit.

Drenten recently appeared at an author book signing at the Walls of Books bookstore in Zanesville to talk about his work.

“I think that mills as a group are among Ohio’s best-kept secrets,” he said. “In the second half of the 19th century there were more than 1,000 mills across the state. Mills are part of the state’s history, and only a few of them are still here for us to enjoy.”

The book includes historical and visitor-oriented facts about mills that are now used as restaurants, museums, inns, wineries, antique shops, country stores, and more. Some are incorporated into public parks, and many are small businesses that support the local economy. A few continue to grind grain for flour and meal.

“Without a doubt the best time I had creating this book was the family time we had discovering these amazing places together,” he said. “That’s what I want to pass along to others. By far the most common reaction by people when they first see the book is that they didn’t realize Ohio had so many mills.”

From → News From AEP

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