Clifton Mill – 3.5 million lights can’t be wrong :)

Grace and I had the chance to visit Clifton Mill tonight, and we weren’t disappointed.  You can see it from a ways away and don’t worry about passing it at night.  3.5 million lights will tell you when you’ve arrived, so don’t worry.  Let me tell you about it and our experience. 

Click on image to see all of the photos

What is Clifton Mill?

If you’re not familiar with it, Clifton Mill is one of the largest water powered grist mills still in existence.  According to the website, “the first mill at this site was built in 1802 by Owen Davis, a Revolutionary War soldier and frontiersman miller.  The mill was built in this location to take advantage of the natural power of the concentrated water funneled into the gorge.  Owen Davis and his son-in-law, General Benjamin Whiteman also built a saw mill and a distillery.  Soon a village known as Davis Mills sprang up around the mills.  The Little Miami River powered five other mills that were built within a mile of Clifton Mill; a woolen mill, saw mill, paper mill, barrel mill and another grist mill.  Clifton Mill is the only one still standing.”  More importantly, they serve incredible pancakes at the Millrace Restaurant.

What happens at Christmastime?

Well, for over 20 years, Clifton Mill has put on quite a light display (along with many other things).  There are over 3.5 million lights that cover the mill, gorge, riverbanks, trees and bridges.  There is a 100 foot “waterfall” of lights as well.  The display has been featured in Midwest Living and Ohio Magazine.  As the website says, it indeed is: “There is a Miniature Village, a Santa Claus Museum and a spectacular synchronized lights and music show that features the old Covered Bridge.  Every night until Christmas Eve, you can peek into Santa’s Workshop to see a live Santa at work and then, every 15 minutes or so, watch him check his list and go up the chimney to load his sleigh.”  Grace and I saw Santa.

Our experience

It was positive, although it was very busy and we had to drive around the block once until some people left, which freed up some space.  You could also park along the streets.  The lights blow you away.  In particular the large number of red lights on the riverbanks and yellow dominating the rest of the landscape is incredibly striking.  The village with trains and historic buildings (Springfield Airport, drive-in) are quaint.  There is a life-size nativity, and the live Santa Claus that came out of the chimney was quite a jovial fellow (as well he should be).  It was fun seeing all the old toys in the Santa House, and we enjoyed a cup of hot chocolate and chocolate chip cookie in the diner (the warmth was the main attraction, as it had gotten quite cold.)  Last, but not least, the musical show as good.  They turn off all the lights and bring them on in sync with a Christmas tune.  Good stuff.  I would recommend this, also for kids.  We probably spent little over an hour.  Price for Monday thru Thursday (which I paid) was $8.  Grace (who is under 6) was free.  Good experience for the price.  Really gets you in the mood.

>> Photos from 12/21/2009 visit (Flickr)

>> Clifton Mill website

>> Discover Ohio tourism site

>> Associated Content story

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