Olde Fashioned Christmas at the Mill, Youngstown, Ohio

Story by Milli Thornton. Photos Copyright © Brian Williams.

LANTERMAN’S MILL is located inside of Mill Creek MetroParks in Youngstown, Ohio only a few minutes drive from our house. Brian and I met up with our friends Ron and Joanne of Yellow Creek Theater (see Movies Under the Bridge) to enjoy Olde Fashioned Christmas at the Mill during the last weekend in November.

Named for its co-builder, German Lanterman, the mill is one of three that have stood along the banks of Mill Creek since it was first surveyed in 1797. In 1843, a flood washed away the pre-existing mill. When Lanterman built its replacement in 1845, he constructed the ten-foot thick walls of the foundation from sandstone quarried in the local area. The wooden beams were cut from nearby oak and chestnut trees.

Mill stones

A couple of the original mill stones on display outside the building

Mill Creek, Youngstown, Ohio

Mill Creek from the deck of Lanterman's Mill

Lanterman's Mill front entrance

The front door to Lanterman's Mill decked out in Christmas cheer

The preservationists have done a wonderful job of retaining the history. The water wheel you can see part of below is a working replica of German Lanterman’s original. From an illustrated sign inside the building:

Perfectly round and balanced to turn at a constant rate, the wheel can produce 40 horsepower. That’s enough to run a sub-compact car!

Most grist mills position the wheel on the outside of the building. Lanterman built his inside to protect it from the harsh Midwestern winters.

Lanterman's Mill - inner workings

Part of the inner workings of the Mill in the lower portion of the building

Compared to the dank cold of the water wheel room, the upper floors were warm and bustling with cheery activity. We used the wooden staircases to go between floors and see everything. The event was a mix of shopping (many hand-made items from local artisans), art and traditional displays, and live entertainment. We partook of hot cider as we browsed.

I bought handmade rose water in a real glass bottle and Joanne bought her cat a Christmas stocking full of cat goodies. (When she got it home she had to hide it in a closet—Jasper was going crazy being able to smell the catnip in the stocking!)

Browsing the Christmas stalls

Browsing the Christmas stalls

Naturally, Santa made an appearance. The crowd was knee-deep in kids who wanted to present their wish lists, so we relocated to another floor to make room for the younger generation. Waiting in line with the other kids was a baby dressed as Santa, sleeping in his mom’s arms. Very cute!

There were live demonstrations, including a blacksmith, woodcarving, weaving, leatherwork, tinsmith and pottery. We spent some time watching a craftsman carving old-fashioned wooden spoons and they were a thing of beauty—as well as a serious investment compared to the price of the plastic mixing spoons that I’m now ashamed of owning.

Old-fashioned wooden spoons

Patient carver of old-fashioned wooden spoons

Live entertainment included a classical guitarist, a jazz guitarist, a juggler, a bagpiper and balloon art. We enjoyed the folk music from Tytely Wounde String Band—a band comprised of players both young and old.

Folk music

Folk music from Tytely Wounde String Band


Bagpiper Mark Pringle

My favorite display was Victorian Christmas. Handknit Christmas stockings, shoes and dolls of the era and traditional ornaments made me want to go back in time. The tiny Christmas tree perched on the display table was decorated with some of the twelve Old German Christmas ornaments, including pine cone, Santa, angel and fruit basket. Tiny electric candles and strings of cranberry completed the charming picture.

Victorian Christmas

Victorian Christmas

Victorian Christmas was manned by Richard and Donna Best dressed in Victorian attire. Richard looked dashing in his top hat and goatee and Donna looked demure in her black cape and bonnet trimmed with black ribbons. During summertime the Bests switch eras to the Wild West. Their Black Lightning Wild West Show with its award-winning bullwhip and roping tricks has been performed as far east as New York and as far west as Nevada.

Richard and Donna Best

Left: Richard & Donna Best dressed in keeping with their Victorian Christmas stall
Right: Santa dressed in green robes

There was one ornament on their Victorian Christmas table that I really coveted: a statue of Santa in green robes. Richard explained that in olden times Santa was dressed in various colors according to region. I thought he looked particularly handsome in green and I asked for the price. Nothing on the table was for sale. Kind of refreshing in this age of commercialism, even though I would not be able to acquire the Santa statue for myself.

We rounded off our Christmas at the Mill experience by eating freshly-roasted chestnuts outside near the covered bridge. A special Giving Tree set up between the mill house and the bridge provides help to children in need in Mahoning county. Donations included warm hats, scarfs and mittens, and they made for colorful and poignant Christmas tree ornaments.

Covered bridge over Mill Creek

The covered bridge over Mill Creek

Olde Fashioned Christmas at the Mill was perfect for getting into the holiday spirit early. Next year I’ll bring a hat and mittens to hang on the Giving Tree.



Lanterman’s Mill: preservative-free, stone-ground cornmeal, buckwheat and whole wheat flour

Was the modern image of Santa Claus in red and white created by the Coca-Cola Company?

Milli at Devi, Montreal

Milli at Devi, Montreal


Milli Thornton (aka Milliver) is the author of Fear of Writing: for writers & closet writers. She is owner of the Fear of Writing Online Course, where her mission is to put the fun back into writing. Milli blogs at Screenwriting in the Boonies and the Fear of Writing Blog and coaches writers individually at Writer’s Muse Coaching Service.

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  1. Oh, Milli, this is such a lovely tradition, I love old fashioned Christmas events. The photos are gorgeous and this even got me into the holiday spirit early though I’ve only read your article. I can imagine the effect it has while walking around at the Mill

    • Estrella, I’m thrilled to hear that this article helped get you into the holiday spirit. I often have trouble getting into it at all, so I’m pleased I’ve had a few things (including your Seasonal Photo Challenges) that have knocked me out of the ballpark. I even have nearly all my Christmas shopping done and wrapped already. Unheard of for me! 🙂

      • Yes, I think we most definitely inspired each other, I wrote the article I submitted after reading this post of yours 🙂
        And how wonderful that you have all your Christmas shopping done and wrapped for the most part. My part of the true hectic-ness has started this week and I can’t say that I predict it stopping before Christmas…

  2. Great story & photos! Brought back memories — my great uncle lived near that bridge near Mill Creek Park!

    • Julia – That’s awesome about your great-uncle living near the covered bridge. So I’m guessing you’ve seen it in person. What a doubly small world!!

  3. I just love an old fashioned Christmas.
    What a wonderful place to experience it. The pictures really let you get the feel of it all. I especially liked the covered bridge!

  4. Oh, that sounds SO picturesque! What a lovely trip and an old fashioned Christmas! I love the idea of the giving tree, too! The building is beautiful and beautifully decorated. Thanks for sharing and Merry Christmas!

    • Annie, it’s extremely picturesque. When Brian was taking the photos of the outside of the Mill decked in wreaths, it was the day before Thanksgiving. I couldn’t stand the thought of waiting this long to post the photos! But somehow I survived. 😀

      So pleased you liked my story. Merry Christmas to you, too, dear friend.


  5. Milli, what a delightful story about a charming place that’s rich in history. Please tell Brian the photos feel very warm. What a beautiful crisp December day. I bet it was cold yet it looks so clear. Your story and his pictures make me want to be there. This looks like a relaxing place even if it was Christmastime. Lovely. Thank you for this one!

    • Terri, I’ll be proud to give your message to Brian about the photos. So glad you felt warmed by them. 🙂 I’m thrilled you got to see my story and thank you for the lovely comment.

  6. You’re welcome! Compliments were well deserved. This is one of my favorite stories that I’ve read on your site. I love this one!

  7. Pingback: Care and Feeding of My Muse | Fear of Writing

  8. No doubt about it, your post made me homesick for the East Coast. I loved seeing the pictures of the covered bridge. Such a beautiful shot.

    I’m also glad that the green Santa wasn’t for sale. The commercialization of every single activity I do out here in California is so over-the-top and exhausting. Constantly saying “No” to the kids after being asked to buy this or that sometimes makes me want to just stay indoors where everything has already been purchased!

    When I finally get my dream of buying an RV and traveling all over the US, I will definitely stop at Lanterman’s Mill. Without your post I would never have known about it, so thank you for sharing.

  9. Allison J. Ingram says:

    Wow! indeed there are many ways to enjoy Christmas! Thanks for posting this.

  10. Love that the mill is still in working order. Looks like these guys know how to do Christmas.

    The Victorian stall looks brilliant, a lot of my time travelling friends are doing Victorian Christmas events at the mo.

    Thanks for the post Milli and Brian.

    • Jo – I was impressed to learn they’re producing preservative-free, stone-ground cornmeal, buckwheat and whole wheat flour at Lanterman’s Mill. I think I’ll buy my flour at their gift shop next time I need some. Brian and I want to go back sometime when the mill is producing and see it in action.

  11. Milli,
    This looks just lovely! Like you, I sometimes have a hard time getting into the Christmas spirit too early, but going to a site like this would be a good way. And can you believe I’ve never eaten a real roasted chestnut?!

    • Hi Lisa,

      Until that day, I had never eaten a real roasted chestnut either! They were pretty tasty, though a bit undercooked. I think I needed some Christmas carolers nearby or some sleigh bells ringing to mark the historic moment, but it went by kind of innocuously. 😀

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