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Frontier Trail

The story of America has deep roots in western Ohio. Pioneers longed to settle this fertile area, while native tribes fought to maintain hold of their ancestral lands. Several famous Americans had their lives shaped by events that took place here, including "Mad" Anthony Wayne, Blue Jacket, Lewis & Clark, Tecumseh, and future President of the United States William Henry Harrison. Discover their stories along Western Ohio's Frontier Trail.

The Frontier Trail is a self guided tour of many historic sites located in Darke, Mercer and Auglaize Counties. To learn more about this informative trek, please visit the Darke County Visitors Bureau website by clicking the button below.


Anthony Wayne Military Forts

Late 1700's Frontier Forts of Anthony Wayne

After the resounding defeat of generals, Harmar and St. Clair, President George Washington sent General Anthony Wayne to the Ohio Territory to settle the violence that was preventing further westward settlement. Washington respected Wayne's military abilities. "Anthony Wayne was a prudent and careful officer. He was a systematic organizer who paid careful attention to basic military problems such as supply, training, and the comfort of his men in the field. He never undertook an operation without thorough advance planning and minute attention to detail. Wayne took care to learn from the mistakes and successes of his predecessors." Nelson, Paul David, Anthony Wayne: Soldier of the Early Republic. Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 1985.

​It was Wayne's plan to build small forts between Fort Washington (now Cincinnati) and wherever the new permanent fort would be located. Wayne would use these forts to protect and re-supply his legion. Starting from Pittsburgh, Wayne's first fort was some 22 miles down- stream. Built in October 1792, it was named Legionville. There, his troops had a safe and healthy place to train and prepare for the next step north.

​Arriving at Fort Washington in May, 1793, Wayne thought the village was unhealthy and would not be a safe place to continue training his troops. He moved one mile farther down the river and built Hobson's Choice. They left the area on October 7, 1793

​Wayne continued north toward Fort Hamilton, the first station on the line of forts from the Ohio River to Fort Jefferson. From Fort Hamilton, they preceded on to Fort St. Clair and then Fort Jefferson. Using Ft. Jefferson as a supply depot, Wayne found a high ground overlooking a vast prairie approximately 8 miles north of Ft. Jefferson.  In November, 1793, he began the construction of a permanent military installation. He named it Greene Ville. It was 55 acres with strong bastions with some 300 log huts for his men. It was an unassailable post. Ft. Greene Ville was never attacked.

December 29, 1793, the army reached the site of General St. Clair's defeat. They built a small fort in just a few days. They called it Fort Recovery because they recovered the bones of St. Clair's slain army (some 900 individuals). They also recovered three cannons from the river.

​On July 28, 1794, Wayne started north again and left Greene Ville, past Ft. Recovery. They forged into the wilderness at the end of the prepared road through "thickets, morasses, marshes defiles and beads of nettles more than waist high and miles in length". Near the St. Mary's River he built Ft. Adams on August 1, 1794.

  • Fort St. Mary's was built in August 1794 as a supply fort prior to the Battle of Fallen Timbers.

  • Fort Defiance was also built in 1794. It was built as a stronghold to command the confluence of the Auglaize and Maumee Rivers.

  • Fort Deposit was built  in 1794 within ten miles of the British stronghold of Ft. Miami and used to deposit the military stores and equipment and stores not used in the battle of Fallen Timbers.

  • Fort Industry was built in 1794 as a supply depot on the left bank of the Maumee River at Swan Creek (later Toledo, Ohio).

  • In 1794, Wayne completed Fort Wayne at the confluence of the St. Joseph, St. Mary's and Maumee Rivers.

  • Fort Rowdy, close to present day Covington, Ohio,  was a small stockade built at the portage around Greene Ville falls to protect men, equipment and supplies for transport up Greenville Creek from the Stillwater River.

  • Fort Loramie was a supply fort on the site of the old trading post occupied by Peter Loramie.

  • Fort Briar the location for bullock pens used for the slaughter of cattle for meat for all the forts under Wayne's command. This camp was built on the banks of the Stillwater river in Richland Township, in Darke County, Ohio.

​Note: Visit "Relics of Greene Ville's Past" for more information about Ft. Greene Ville


Lowell Thomas Childhood Home

After the death of famous broadcaster Lowell Thomas, Mr. & Mrs. H.C. McClain purchased the birthplace of Lowell Thomas and presented it to the Darke County Historical Society. The two story Victorian Gothic style house was built in the 1880's. It was moved from its original site in Woodington, Ohio, which is just a few miles north of Greenville, to the Garst Museum grounds in Greenville. Fully restored, it is open to visitors with pre-arrangements (contact the Garst Museum Office to select a date and time for your visit).

​Garst Museum has a large exhibit dedicated to Lowell Thomas. Much of the memorabilia of his life as well as research materials are available for viewing and study at the museum. His unique adventures--traveling with Lawrence of Arabia; hunting tigers with the Prince of Wales; dining with the Communist leaders at the Kremlin, with cannibals in the wilds of New Guinea, and with pygmies in Africa; flying in the Artic and Antarctic--make learning about Lowell Thomas another great adventure for museum guests.


Darke County Grist Mills

Mill History
Milling in Ohio began in earnest after the Treaty of Greene Ville. This treaty allowed the safe construction of mills to keep pace with demand of grinding corn into meal and wheat into flour. By 1824, there were four grist-mills in Darke County, all of which together might have ground one hundred bushels of corn per day, if the conditions were favorable.


Current Milling in Darke County
Bears Mill was constructed by Gabriel Baer from hand hewn timbers in 1849 and is still in operation today. The site of the present mill, as well as the water rights, were granted to Major George Adams by Presidential deed by President James Monroe in 1824. Its wheels began to turn in 1850, grinding gifts from nature into sustenance for man.

The Mill  is powered by water from the creek, which turns underwater turbines 44" & 30.5" powering the imported French Mill Stones that produce a wide variety of ground grains sourced from local growers. During the heyday of gristmills, a pair of good stones would cost as much as $6,000.00. Understandably, they were treated with care, and never allowed to become dull or out of balance as either one of these faults would cause premature wearing of the stone. Sharpening millstones was an art in itself and a ten year apprenticeship was not uncommon. It took a two year journey to France for Gabriel Baer to bring the three imported French Buhr stones to Bear's Mill.

This amazing structure was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977 and currently plays host to Historic Mill Tours, The Mill Store, and Walking Trails as well as many monthly and annual events that celebrate the hertiage of this structure.

When traveling to visit the Garst Museum, we suggest that a visit to Bears Mill is a must. The mill is located on Bears Mill Road, just off St. Rt. 36, east of Greenville, Ohio.

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