Hanford Mills Now Open for Guided Tours by Reservation

Hanford Mills Museum logo


CONTACT: Liz Callahan 607/278-5744, lizc@hanfordmills.org 

Hanford Mills Museum to Open for Tours August 12
Visitors can call ahead to reserve a guided tour of the water-powered sawmill, gristmill, and woodworking shop

[July 27, 2020 East Meredith, NY] Beginning August 12, Hanford Mills Museum will be open for guided tours of its water-powered sawmill, gristmill, and woodworking shop. Tours will be offered Wednesdays through Sundays and feature demonstrations of the 1926 Fitz overshot waterwheel and water-powered machines operating just as they did a century ago. To promote social distancing, reservations are required and only one party will tour the Mill at a time. To schedule a tour, call 607/278-5744.

“We instituted a reservation system for tours to limit the number of people in the Mill at one time,” says executive director Liz Callahan. “This system also means visitors get a custom tour. Interpreters can cater to visitors’ interests even more than during a regular season tour. We are eager to welcome visitors back to Hanford Mills.” 

Callahan noted that topics covered in tours range from water power and sustainability to  local history and the impact of the railroad, from entrepreneurship and rural life to technology and the inner workings of the mill and its machines.

“Many people are looking for something to do close by,” said Callahan.  “We’re a short drive from Oneonta or Delhi, and with the reserved tours, you and your household will have the Mill to yourself. Kids love to see the Fitz overshot waterwheel start up and see the Mill and its machines rumble to life. Touring Hanford Mills is a dynamic way to learn about simple machines, water power, and the historic role of mills in rural New York State.” Children 12 and under receive free admission. 

Keep at least “half a waterwheel apart”

Social distancing as well as mask wearing will be practiced at Hanford Mills. “Since the  waterwheel is 12 feet wide, we’re asking visitors to keep at least half a waterwheel apart from staff and others not in their household,” says Callahan.

While reserved tours begin August 12 for the general public, Hanford Mills is offering a special Welcome Back week for Museum Members beginning August 5. Four tours are available to reserve each day at  10 am, 11:30 am, 1:00 pm, and 2:30 pm.  

After the guided tour, which lasts about an hour, visitors can tour the Feed Mill and view a video on the history of Hanford Mills and the exhibit “Today’s Schedule Did Not Go According to Plan,” which recounts the decades of preservation and maintenance work done at Hanford Mills. Other historic buildings on site, including the John Hanford Farmhouse, are closed, but visitors can explore the Museum site and view the buildings from the outside. The Learning Lab, which houses hands-on activities for children, and the Museum Store are closed.

Fall events including the Dan Rion Antique Engine Jamboree & Powerfest and the Woodsmen’s Festival, are cancelled for 2020. See the website for more information, hanfordmills.org. Hanford Mills has added several online resources to its website including short videos for kids that include a mini lesson and a craft and the “Milling About at Home” series that features how the Hanford Mills community is spending its time.   

While Hanford Mills Museum was closed to the public, staff have been working on several maintenance and restoration  projects, including using the 1913 water-powered Hermance 4-sided moulder to make tongue and groove boards for the upcoming renovation of the second floor of the East Meredith Post Office porch, as well as other repairs around the site.   

Admission and Information

All tours must be reserved in advance by calling 607/278-5744. Hanford Mills Museum is open for Member Tours beginning August 5, and for the general public beginning August 12. Tours are offered Wednesdays through Sundays as well as Labor Day and Columbus Day through October 15. 

Children 12 and under receive free admission. Admission for adults and teens is $9; senior and AAA member admission is $7.  First responders and members of the military receive half-price admission. Museum members and residents who live in zip codes (13757, 13739, 13786, 13750, and 13806) neighboring Hanford Mills receive free admission. Hanford Mills participates in the nationwide Museums for All program. Anyone with an EBT card receives free admission. See hanfordmills.org for additional discounts. 

About Hanford Mills Museum

Hanford Mills Museum operates an authentic water- and steam-powered historic site, which includes a sawmill, gristmill and woodworking shop. The mission of Hanford Mills Museum is to inspire audiences of all ages to explore connections among energy, technology, natural resources and entrepreneurship in rural communities with a focus on sustainable choices. Hanford Mills is listed on the National and New York State Registers of Historic Places. 

Hanford Mills is located at 51 County Highway 12 in East Meredith, at the intersection of Delaware County Routes 10 & 12, just 10 miles from Oneonta, and 15 miles from Delhi.  For more information, visit www.hanfordmills.org or call 607/278-5744.


For more information, please contact:

 Liz Callahan, Executive Director, Hanford Mills Museum, 607/278-5744, lizc@hanfordmills.org 

For photos, please contact Peg Odell, pego@hanfordmills.org

Folk Art in Wood

Catskills Folk Connection presents an exhibit of local artists, “Folk Art in Wood,” on view by reservation at Hanford Mills Museum from Wednesday, September 2 through October 15, 2020. The exhibit features artists who work with wood in a wide variety of ways.

Joe Dibble carves decoys of water birds such as swans, geese, and ducks, plus wood carvings of trout and land birds. Gary Mead creates one-of-a-kind furniture from carefully selected wood, some of which he harvests and mills specifically for his projects. Kira Lendo creates pictures on wood, drawing wildlife and Catskills scenes with a wood burner. Joe Hewitt and Ken Etts know the secret of the “whistle stick”, a folk toy they make out of a notched stick and a small propeller, which reverses direction when they whistle. Dane Scudder and Chris Carey, both of whom play for the Tremperskill Boys square dance band, make banjos that feature local woods. Many of the artists have additional creations to show with their wooden art: pen and ink drawings and watercolors, artwork from the previous generation that inspired them, and poems that come from the same creative spirit as the carving. Also featured is the work of historic wood carvers, Lavern Kelley and Homer Benedict.

Trout carving by Joe Dibble

“We are delighted to showcase the work of these local artists,” says Liz Callahan, executive director of Hanford Mills Museum. “This collaboration with the Catskills Folk Connection dovetails perfectly with the history of the Mill and its past and present operations.”

Photo: Trout carved by Joe Dibble

“I was pleased to find so many artists in the Catskills making art with wood and I was surprised that they are creating such a wide variety of expressions, from wooden toys, pictures on wood, to one-of-a-kind furniture, and evocative, hand-carved decoys.  Folk art is alive and well in the Catskills,” says Ginny Scheer, folklorist at Catskills Folk Connection, an organization which fosters traditional arts and activities in the Catskills region.

Catskills Folk Connection interview with Gary Mead

Ms. Scheer is conducting “Meet the Folklorist” interviews with the artists featured in the exhibit:

Catskills Folk Lyceum Lecture on Lavern Kelley September 5

On Saturday, September 5, at 2 pm, Sydney L. Waller will offer a talk about Lavern Kelley.  Ms. Waller, a gallerist who manages the artistic estate of Lavern Kelley, will explore the career of this well-known Catskills carver. As a youth, Kelley began depicting farm scenes, first in pencil, and then in three-dimensional carvings which he painted in realistic colors. Carefully carved trucks, tractors, carts, and wagons, some in farm scenes with fences and barns, all take their place in his voluminous work that lasted decades. Ms. Waller is lending a number of his carvings for the exhibit.  Kelley’s work, along with works by Homer Benedict on loan from the Delaware County Historical Association, provide historical context for the work of present-day Catskills artists.

Reservations needed to view exhibit or attend talk; Both are free

The exhibit will be on view by reservation from September 2 through October 15, at Hanford Mills Museum, 51 County Route 12, East Meredith, NY.  Call Hanford Mills Museum at 607/274-5744 for tickets to the talk and/or exhibit. Guided tours of Hanford Mills are also available by reservation, Wednesdays-Sundays as well as on Labor Day and Columbus Day. Call 607/278-5744 to reserve your guided tour.   

About Catskills Folk Connection

Catskills Folk Connection logo

Catskills Folk Connection’s work to foster traditional arts in the Catskills includes offering square dances in four of the region’s counties, presentations about Catskills food traditions at festivals, biannual folk art exhibits such as this one, and an annual display about CFC’s progress studying stone architecture in Roxbury. The organization, which is sponsored by the Roxbury Arts Group,  has applied for designation as a non-profit and will soon be seeking Catskills residents and visitors who enjoy its programming to support the organization through memberships and volunteering. Catskills Folk Connection is funded in part by the NYS Council on the Arts Folk Art Program, by Gov. Cuomo and the NYS Legislature, by Action and Vision Grants from HumanitiesNY, and by the O’Connor Foundation. For more information about Catskills Folk Connection go to its blog www.catskillsfolkconnection.blogspot.com, visit Catskills Folk Connection on Facebook, or contact Ginny Scheer 607/326-4206 or vscheer@juno.com.

Milling About at Home: David Heick

David Heick, who exhibits his model steam engines and 1956 Chevy at the Antique Engine Jamboree, tells us about restoring his father’s model train.

Restored Lionel electric locomotive, circa 1926.

Model railroading is something I have been doing since I was a young child. This is a prewar Lionel electric locomotive that belonged to my Dad. It was a wreck. I rebuilt the whole thing.

“I love model trains. I have a lot of them. This toy train was made around the time when Hanford Mills was in its heyday, about 1926.”

It took me a while to decide if I should restore this locomotive because I can remember as a child my dad told me that when he was a kid he took it apart and painted it. It is sentimental to me.

I had to clean off all the paint, I could tell it was house paint that was brushed on. I polished all the brass parts. I found reproduction parts that were missing on eBay. (You can find anything, you just have to look.)

I found green spray paint that was pretty close to the color that this locomotive might have been.  I completely disassembled the motor to clean all the dirt, dust and old oil out of it. I rewound the motor armature and installed new brushes. I replaced the broken wheels. I also rewired the whole thing.

“It is a really nice running locomotive now. I’m glad I decided to restore it.”

Milling About at Home: Bernd Krause

Bernd Krause, who exhibits at Woodsmen’s Festivals and other Hanford Mills events, writes about his work building musical instruments.

instruments made by Bernd Krause

“Not a lot has changed for me during this pandemic. I spend pretty much all day every day in my shop building dulcimers, ukuleles and other instruments. This year has been particularly busy. I do miss going out to dinner with my wife and seeing the local bands perform.”

Krause said that dulcimer groups on Facebook are a good resource for him, putting him in touch with people who want to order instruments.

“Patience is very important, as many of the items I needed to complete the instruments came from all over the country and many states totally shut down. Things like tuners and some custom parts I was unable get for a while which slowed down or stopped progress on several instruments.”

“Although I enjoy bringing my instruments to Hanford Mills for people to see and learn about, I really enjoy bringing my springpole treadle lathe and shaving horse to demonstrate. I feel it fits in better with atmosphere at Hanford Mills. Hopefully next year I will be able to bring them again.”

We hope so too Bernd!

As far as musical instruments at Hanford Mills, there is a piano in the Hanford House that once belonged to Horace Hanford. The piano was donated to HMM by Ron and Grace Kent. The piano was sold by L.A. Babcock in Norwich, NY (inscribed on lid over keys) and it was made by Ivers and Ponds Piano Co, Boston in 1888.

Milling About at Home: Daniel Deysenroth

“I have been working on expanding my antique engine collection and bringing a couple of recent acquisitions back into running condition. The one I just finished is a 1934 Maytag Multi-Motor which originally powered a wringer washing machine. I completely disassembled the engine, cleaned, painted, and reassembled it. After quite a bit of tinkering and adjusting, the little engine starts and pops along just like it did over 85 years ago.”

“These antique engines were made in an era when machines were built to last. It always amazes me how easily (relatively speaking) an engine that looks like a rusty hunk of metal, can be brought back to life. Broken parts often have to be fixed or fabricated by hand, but there are a surprising number of replacements that can be found online and on eBay. YouTube is very helpful to watch videos of other people restoring antique engines.”

“I have been visiting Hanford Mills since I was a young kid and the mechanical workings of the mill have always interested me. My grandfather was on the Board of Directors in the early years of the museum, so we went many times back then. I began collecting antique engines about three years ago and have exhibited at the Dan Rion Antique Engine Jamboree the last two years.”

Hanford Mills Museum has a variety of gas and steam engines in its collection, including this 1936  John Deere hit and miss gasoline engine.

The Hanfords installed this Fairbanks gasoline engine in the Mill in 1910 to power a dynamo that generated DC electricity for the Mill and nearby residents.

Milling About at Home: Luke Murphy

Luke Murphy, Education Coordinator, talks about reading up on the World Wars.

“I have always loved to read. For several years now, I have been fascinated by the World Wars. With the exception of a very limited number of countries, the whole world was engulfed in conflict. I am always trying to find lessons from the past and I believe we have a lot to learn from this terrifying period of time. I even have my trust research assistant, Rey, to help me!”

The Pacific War by John Costello has been a great, one stop source of information and sources. Follow the information! I had a lot of preconceived notions about the Wars going into this many years ago and my opinions on things have changed a lot. It is a fascinating journey to spend so much time learning about things that interest you!”

“Hanford Mills Museum was operating throughout the World Wars….almost everyone was impacted by the Wars. It is incredible to see how everything connects!”

Milling about at Home: Shelly Jones

Shelly Jones, a trustee of Hanford Mills Museum, talks about writing, gardening, and inspiration found on long hikes.

“One of the reasons I joined the Hanford Mills Board of Trustees was the museum’s emphasis on sustainability and rural traditions. As someone who grew up on a farm and loves the outdoors, the mill’s missions reflect my own values and the themes found in my writing.”

“While I often write fiction, since the pandemic I’ve found myself writing more poetry. My creative writing often relies on natural imagery (birds, trees, flowers) and incorporates elements from folklore (herbal remedies, superstitions). Despite the quarantine, I’ve still managed to take long hikes (getting lost in the woods is a great way to social distance…) and these are often inspirational for my writing,” she says.

“I bought The Complete Language of Flowers, an encyclopedia of plants that I find very useful both for gardening and writing purposes.”

“Recently my colleagues and I hosted a virtual reading of our work online. It was a bit more challenging to gauge the audience’s reception of our work, but we found more folks could attend virtually than they could if we had held it in person.”

Shelly’s garden

Tell us how you are spending your time “Milling About at Home” by completing this short form.

Milling About at Home: Burr Hubbell (May)

HMM Board president Burr Hubbell does windows…and tells us about a unique find on Hubbell Family Farms.

Prepping a window for painting and glazing

Here at Hanford Mills, Kevin Jensen is working on windows too. He set up a workshop in the Hardware Store. The large window is from the sawdust room in the Mill.

“And speaking of Milling Around,” says Burr, “look what was found while cleaning up a collapsed building, a nearly complete old cider press.”

Burr says the cider press was found by his niece Casey Mudge and her husband. The plan is to restore/rebuild it to working order. All of the equipment was there, apple elevator, grinder, racks, forms, etc. Also found was a very early Kneeland single cylinder vertical gasoline engine, which still runs. Maybe we will see these one day at the Antique Engine Jamboree?

Milling About at Home: Burr Hubbell (March and April)

Burr Hubbell, president of the Board of Trustees of Hanford Mills Museum, shared a few projects with us.

“Back in March, I made an Irish Soda bread, baked in a cast iron frying pan in the oven of the coal-fired Kalamazoo stove.”

Royal Bride Cook Stove

The Royal Bride Cook Stove in the Hanford House can use either coal or wood as fuel.

“In April, the project was building a cold frame to start some early greens.  The cold frame is in front of the “Cornell Approved” Chicken Coop. The chickens really ‘got into it’.  They liked the way it warmed the dirt.”

“Got the sides on, filled it with compost and dirt, planted, and of course we got a little snow.”

After a while it finally warmed up, and by the end of May the cold frames were full of greens.

Milling About at Home: Stephen Shursky

Stephen Shursky, a Member of Hanford Mills Museum who has also exhibited at the Dan Rion Memorial Antique Engine Jamboree, on recreating a large flat belt-driven lathe.

“My projects are probably larger than most people’s. I enjoy repairing or restoring antique equipment, but I also like to put it to work.”

Stephen Shursky’s lathe

“I am recreating a large flat belt driven lathe, with a 20″ swing and about nine feet between centers. This is something I have been working towards for years. I cut an ash by the house, sawed it on my antique sawmill, planed the timbers with an antique 20″ planer powered by an antique tractor and flat belt. The lathe bed is two 4x8s and the legs are 4x4s. The legs are assembled with mortise and tenon joints with wood pins.”

“I have some books with antique woodworking equipment I have used for inspiration, like Vintage Woodworking Machinery by Dana M. Batory and American Industrial Machinery Since 1870 by C.H Wendel. I have also been inspired by Hanford Mills which I have been visiting since I attended SUNY Delhi in the late seventies. Also the Hill Sawmill in Duck Harbor, PA, which I first visited in 1980. I grew up in the woods and sawmill working with my Dad, I guess I have sap in my blood.”

“My advice is to have a strong back and proper equipment. Also be able to make parts you don’t have.”  

A wooden fram lathe at Hanford Mills Museum
A wooden frame lathe at Hanford Mills Museum. This lathe has been used for turning posts, columns, ballasters and even rolling pins.