Boston Mills, OH (Helltown) – (1806 – 1974 mill & railroad town acquired by the Cuyahoga Valley National Park)
Classification: ghost town
Location: Boston Township, Summit County – On Boston Mills Rd at the intersection of Main St
Boston Mills was settled by surveyors from Connecticut in 1806 who built a cabin on the grounds of what is now the Boston Cemetery. It was originally in Portage County & the township was named Boston after Boston, Massachusetts. The village also got the same name as it was the first in the township. There were several mills in the area including saw mills & paper mills operated by the Cleveland – Akron Bag Company. A post office was organized in 1825 but was discontinued later that year. It reopened in 1832 & ran until 1861.
Boston Mills grew with the introduction of the Ohio & Erie Canal in 1827. On top of the mills, the town also had a warehouse, two stores, a hotel, school, blacksmith shop, broom factory, & several businesses that dealt in building boats for the canal. After the canal was abandoned, Boston Mills got a train station on the Valley Railroad which kept the town thriving for many more decades.
There are a few stories of haunted places around the town. Boston Cemetery at the end of Main St is said to be haunted, as well as the “Crybaby Bride” on Boston Mills Rd that leads into town, & several other old buildings around the area. There are also stories about the Krejci Dump on Hines Hill Rd containing toxic substances & a government cover-up to stamp down the rumor. It was intensified in 1974 when Boston Mills was designated a national recreation area. Some of the remaining residents were forced out by eminent domain & their houses were demolished as the town became part of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. An urban legend of a giant snake from the reportedly toxic dump roaming around sometimes keeps people out of the woods, plus stories of local groups of cults & satanists who don’t want people to know what they’re doing back there. The “End Of The World” is the name given to the spot where a portion of Stanford Rd abruptly ends & is closed off from traffic.
Today there are still a lot of historical buildings remaining like the Boston Township Hall that was built in 1887, the Boston Community Church at the corner of Boston Mills Rd & Hines Hill Rd, & the Boston Mill Station that is still in use by the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad which operates train rides for local tourism. The Boston Mill Store is a visitors center & the M.D. Garage on Boston Mills Rd is restored & houses historical exhibits. There are also some abandoned & reportedly haunted houses around town. The Boston Mills Historic District was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1992.
Brandywine Village, OH (1816 – 1937 mill town abandoned due to lack of economic opportunities)
Classification: ghost town
Location: Northfield Center Township, Summit County – On Brandywine Rd. north of the overpass of I-271
Brandywine Village was settled in 1814 by George Wallace (1771 – 1849) & his wife Harriet (Menough) Wallace (1784 – 1848). They had 4 children & built their homestead next to the creek which Harriet named Brandywine. The small town grew to be the most important economic center between Cleveland & Pittsburgh, PA & rivaled Cleveland in business & education.
In 1816 George built a sawmill on the 65 ft. Brandywine Falls beside their cabin & also built a whiskey distillery that same year. A few years later he built a grist mill & then a wool factory in 1821. More settlers moved into the town so a Presbyterian church & a school were built to accommodate them, along with a dozen or so houses. The whiskey distillery could produce 30 – 40 gallons a day. Back then, the whiskey was affectionately called “Brandywine currency”. George wasn’t a member of the church but he gave 10 gallons of whiskey every year to the minister.
At the age of 15 George’s son James Wallace (1803 – 1887) started managing the general store that was on the second floor of the grist mill. A few years later James & his brother George Young Wallace (1805 – 1844) were put in charge of the Wallace’s 1200 acre farm which had over 2,000 sheep, 75 cattle, & 10 – 15 horses. The Brandywine Mills post office was the first one in Northfield Center Township & ran from 1825 – 1855 with George (Sr.) being it’s first postmaster. Later in 1825 George transferred the ownership of the mills to his sons who started up the Wallace Brothers Company with the mills, farm, & a larger new general store. Brandywine’s remaining days were numbered though because the town was passed up by the Ohio & Erie Canal & the railroads.
The mills were abandoned by the Wallace family before 1900. In 1920 Willis W. Hale (1882 – 1947) purchased what was left of the Wallace’s grist mill & built the Champion Electric Company which manufactured restaurant appliances. It was destroyed by a lightening fire in 1937. Today the location of Brandywine Village is in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. There’s a parking lot next to Brandywine Falls off of Brandywine Rd. north of the overpass of I-271. The foundation of one of the mills & a few barely noticeable house foundations can be found at the site of the old village.
James Wallace’s house was built in 1848 & has been restored & turned into a bed & breakfast called The Inn at Brandywine Falls. The old cemetery at Brandywine Village was moved to Northfield – Macedonia Cemetery. It’s at the intersection of Olde 8 Rd. & Valley View Rd. 3.5 miles north of Brandywine Falls with a marker that reads “Here lies the remains of the early settlers who originally were buried at Brandywine Falls”. The Wallace family is buried there with several of their descendants.
The Inn At Brandywine Falls Website – https://www.innatbrandywinefalls.com/
Thanks to group member Brett Taylor, manager of Ohio Hiking Trails And Historical Sites, for providing the listing lead on Brandywine Village!