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 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!