Providence, OH – (1836 – present mill & canal town mostly abandoned over time but later repopulated)
Classification: ghost town
Location: Providence Township, Lucas County & Grand Rapids Township, Wood County – On Old US 24 (Lucas County Rd 53) at the intersection of Providence – Neapolis Swanton Rd
Peter Manor (1778 – 1847) settled in the area in 1816. He was a fur trader who previously operated a trading post for the Northwestern Fur Company. Peter built a saw mill in 1822 next to the Maumee River & expanded it with a grist mill in 1835. He platted the town of Providence in 1837 & had to sell off his mill to the state in 1838 during construction of the Miami & Erie Canal. Most of the 88 plats in the town, which were on five streets, were bought up & the town started to grow. Unfortunately a devastating fire swept through the business district in 1846.
Peter Manor died the next year while in the process of rebuilding his mill. Isaac Ludwig (1813 – 1906) & his wife Christenia (Ness) Ludwig (1819 – 1903) purchased the mill & completed its construction. Providence was hit by the cholera epidemic in the early 1850’s & the population decreased again. Then it lost its post office which ran from 1836 – 1868. The town never had a railroad station & the closing of the canal was pretty much the last straw for Providence. Lucas County removed it from their recording list in 1928, basically turning it into a ghost town at the time.
With the success of Grand Rapids on the other side of the Maumee River in Wood County, the Providence area was never totally abandoned. The construction of Providence Metropark & its historic nostalgia made Ludwig Mill & former canal a neat tourist attraction. Although it was annexed into Grand Rapids, Providence has basically regained its separate town status since then. It’s a populated place in Lucas County for census purposes & is listed on some maps as a current town.
There are lots of remnants left from the old town. The Ludwig’s Mill is restored & has a general store in Providence Metropark at 13827 Old US 24 Grand Rapids, OH 43522. It’s open from May to October, Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. On Sundays they do full demonstrations of the mill operations from 1 – 4 p.m. & run a canal boat that passes by the abandoned Miami & Erie canal lock #44. There are also a few other old buildings in the Providence Historic District. Isaac & Christenia Ludwig were buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery on Bailey Rd off of Providence Neapolis – Swanton Rd, about 3 miles north of town.
Mill & Metropark Info – https://metroparkstoledo.com/explore-your-parks/providence/