Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — German Lanterman

Lanterman Bridge

Lanterman Bridge, spanning Mill Creek gorge, looking downstream, ©Robert C. Trube, 2018.

Lanterman’s Mill. Lanterman Falls. The Lanterman Bridge, replacing an earlier bridge in 1920 and over which US 62 passes, spans the Mill Creek gorge. These are some of the most visited and photographed sites in Youngstown. I spent hours during high school and college hiking the trails in the park and one of my favorite views was looking either upstream toward the falls, or downstream from the Mill, with the gorgeous Lanterman Bridge framing these vistas.

We have German Lanterman to thank for the name and the mill that is a centerpiece of this part of Mill Creek Metropark. His story is of one of the early families to settle the Youngstown area and prosper in the Mahoning Valley.

Lanterman’s parents, Peter and Elizabeth Lanterman moved from Washington County, Pennsylvania to Austintown township in 1802. German was one of six children, born February 6, 1814 in Austintown, where his father ran a successful coal mining operation, the Leadville mine.

German married Sally Ann Woods on July 12, 1842. A daughter, Florence was born in 1843, with a son, John, following in 1844. In 1869, Florence married Colonel L . T. Foster, who owned a nearby farm and mining operation, and after whom Fosterville is named. Florence died four years later.

German and Sally acquired a large tract of land surrounding the falls that would bear his name. Lanterman was already a success, farming and dealing horses. A logging mill had existed beside the falls dating back to 1799, operated by Isaac Powers and Phineas Hill. In 1823, Eli Baldwin replaced the mill with a grist mill, which he operated until it was washed away in a flood in 1843.

Lanterman Mill and Falls

Lanterman’s Mill and Falls, ©Robert C. Trube, 2018.

German Lanterman built a new, larger mill with three sets of grinding stones, powered by an overshot wheel, like that presently in use. The business was highly successful for many years, requiring the work of 80 men, a large workforce for this period. It ground corn, wheat, and buckwheat. It was later converted to turbines. Roller mills eventually replaced mills of this type, being more efficient and cheaper to operate. The mill closed in 1888, and was sold to the newly formed Mill Creek Park in 1892.

German Lanterman only outlived his mill by a year, dying of Bright’s Disease on January 12, 1889, just short of 75 years old. Sally survived him, living until 1913. Like many early Youngstown residents, they are buried in Oak Hill Cemetery. But their name lives on at one of the most loved sites in Youngstown.

Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — Mill Creek Park

First of all, I have to say a big “thank you” to all of you (mostly Youngstowners and former Youngstowners) who viewed and commented on my last post on Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown–Food. Far and away, this has been the most viewed post in my nine month experience of blogging. It has been a delight to share food memories with so many other Youngstowners (and our laments over the lack of good Italian food anywhere else!).

Lake Cohasset

Lake Cohasset (c)Robert C Trube, 2014

Along with food, Mill Creek Park (now MetroPark) has played a huge part in many of our lives growing up. The park grew up along the course of Mill Creek, a scenic stream that flowed into the industrial Mahoning River.  It was initially created through the efforts of Youngstown attorney Volney Rogers in 1891. In 1906, Lake Glacier was created by damning the stream at a narrow point. I remember that it was during the 1960s that the Lake Glacier Boat House was built. Lake Newport, added to the park through a land donation in 1924, was dammed in 1928. More recently, the south end has been allowed to revert to a wetlands area.  By far, the most beautiful of the lakes in my opinion is Lake Cohasset, the earliest to be created, in 1897. Lanterman’s Mill, the recipient of proceeds from the sales of Recipes of Youngstownand featured on the book’s cover, was built in 1845-46 and is still in operation and you can purchase freshly ground grain from the mill. (All the factual information for this part of my post comes from Wikipedia.)

The Lily Pond

The Lily Pond, (c) Robert C Trube, 2014

Located southwest of the industrial belt of steel mills lining the Mahoning River that runs through Youngstown, the park provided a respite from the hard work, noise, and pollution associated with steel-making. Picnic shelters situated throughout the park provided a wonderful place for family gatherings. Taking boats out onto Lakes Glacier or Newport on a summer Sunday afternoon or a baseball game on one of the diamonds at Rocky Ridge (now the James L Wick Recreation Area) or an evening family walk with day old bread to feed the gold fish at the Lily Pond were refreshing breaks from work in the mills or other manufacturing plants.

My life’s journey runs through Mill Creek Park even though we haven’t lived in Youngstown for many years. I treasure walks my dad and I took along the many trails running through the park. I still remember a Saturday morning when we got up early, took a frying pan, bacon and eggs, and made breakfast over an open fire at one of the fire rings in the park. My brother and his wife had wedding photographs taken on the little footbridge near the boat house at Lake Glacier in 1968 (I was best man). Often when I had free time in high school or college, I would be on my bike, riding the roads through the park, sometimes finding a scenic overlook where I might read or write or just think. Fellows Riverside Gardens, a beautiful public garden developed beginning in the 1960s was the site of countless wedding photographs (including ours in 1978) overlooking Lake Glacier and the site of our best friend’s daughter’s wedding just a few years back. In 2001, we celebrated my parents 60th anniversary at the D.D. and Velma Davis Education and Visitor Center. In my fathers last years (he passed in 2012), one of our cherished memories was rides through the park and listening to him revisit his youthful memories.

Lake Glacier from Fellows Riverside Gardens (c) Robert C Trube, 2014

Lake Glacier from Fellows Riverside Gardens (c) Robert C Trube, 2014

When we were growing up, the park reminded us that life was not all hard work and toil–that there was beauty, and peace, and goodness to life as well. I may not be able to speak to this as well as those who still live in the Youngstown area, but I sense that the renewed efforts to maintain the park in the formation of the MetroPark district represents a symbol of hope that as Youngstown seeks to “re-invent” itself, this city can be a good place not only to work, but to live.