If you have watched the history detectives on WGTE Channel 30 you know they can find the answer to a history puzzle in less than one hour. We know of course it isn’t that easy and if they failed it would not make a very interesting program. Waterville has some very interesting history puzzles and when the Historical Society comes across (or stumbles upon usually) such a puzzle we have several members ready to take it on. We don’t have a paid staff of professional researchers and a multi-thousand dollar budget, but our volunteers will dig in with great enthusiasm. We often find more questions than answers but always know more than when we started. We will present a series of those “history detective” mysteries and hope that perhaps some of our readers may know more than we have so far found and will volunteer some additional information. All comments are welcome. Volunteer Randy Studer and Bob Chapman are our usual researchers assisted at times by Scott Duncan.
Mystery NO. 1: What and Where was the Waterville Dam? This one has a happy ending. We have encountered in various sources reference to “the Waterville Dam.” None of us knew Waterville ever had a dam across the Maumee, hence the puzzle. We have found in working on another mystery the foundation of a concrete dam across the Maumee at the foot of Jerome Road that is prominent in Google Earth photos and easily seen in low water time. But our “Waterville Dam” Existed in the mid-1800s, too early for concrete. Then along came Gary Franks of Perrysburg, who visited the archives to do research on the Perrysburg Hydraulic Canal and everything fell into place. The Waterville Dam was built one mile north of Waterville at the edge of the Cobb farm in 1850 to provide a water source for a hydraulic canal (for water power only, not navigation) to power Perrysburg industries some five and one-half mile to the north. The dam was a timber dam and the remains are hard to see, consisting of only smoothing of the limestone river bed to anchor the base timbers. Armed with this knowledge our researchers visited the site. It ran across the river from the foot of Dutch Road (which no longer runs to the river) and of Roachton Road on the Wood County side. The canal and dam were abandoned in the early 1890s. We were able to provide Mr. Franks with photograph of the Wood County end of the dam dating to around 1884. Mr. Franks book on the Perrysburg Hydraulic Canal can be examined in the Wakeman Archives and will provide more details about the Waterville Dam.
Note: Watch for our next Waterville mystery.