DerryNews.com, Derry, New Hampshire

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August 8, 2013

Historic Taylor Mill is a hidden jewel

Antique up-and-down sawmill open to visitors

DERRY — It’s a property known to many as a popular fishing spot or the perfect place to paddle a kayak.

It’s also a spot to enjoy history.

Taylor Mill on Island Pond Road offers a look into the state’s past and offers a glimpse of how the forestry industry operated generations ago.

The mill sits on the 71-acre Ballard State Forest, close to passing traffic traveling Island Pond Road, but still set apart by the calming waters and surrounding greenery.

Mill caretaker Robert Spoerl has tended the saw and its property for several years, maintaining the mill and its operation, and helping the site continue as a lesson in New Hampshire history.

“This is a hidden jewel,” Spoerl said as he looked out over the mill’s landscape. “Many of our lands are.”

Derry resident Robert Taylor bought the property around 1799 and began operating an up-and-down sawmill a few years later.

When Ernest Ballard bought the property in 1930, the only remnant of the original operation was the stone foundation. Ballard began the task of rebuilding and restoring the mill, and searched for another up and down-style saw to put on his property.

For about $180, he bought a truckload of parts from a man in Sandown. He also purchased a $3,000 water wheel from a firm in Hanover, Pa.

The rebuilt mill and nearby dam were donated to the state after Ballard’s death in 1953.

The dam recently got some much-needed repairs through the Department of Environmental Services’ dam bureau.

Beyond the mill, there’s the view. People come to fish, kayak and just enjoy nature. In colder months, the hardy come to ice fish.

“It’s kind of relaxing,” Spoerl said.

The mill building is still under repair, including roof work and interior upgrades.

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