Passersby may have noticed that after a long hiatus the Water Wheel Centre (Old Ford Valve Plant) has it's water wheel turning once again. The Northville Historical Society (NHS) had a part in providing a financial avenue for a donation that made the rebuild of the original trash rack possible. The trash rack, which is located in the Mill Race Historical Village at the southern most end of the mill race (just south of the arched bridge) had rusted and collapsed over the 85 years since it was installed. Without the rack in place to screen out branches and debris the penstock, or underground pipe, that feeds the mill pond water under Griswold St. and over to the water wheel would become clogged and useless. So, the water wheel had to be shut down to prevent that from happening and couldn't be started back up until a replacement rack could be fabricated and installed.
The Chuck Lapham family, longstanding in the community and especially known through Lapham's Men's Wear store in town, made a generous donation to make that possible. Ever since Ford divested of the plant Rick Cox, current owner of Water Wheel Centre, has graciously kept the water wheel operational as one of the main tourist focal points in the City for which we all owe Rick a debt of gratitude as well. The Lapham family and Rick Cox will be honored during a celebration of the water wheel's turning again at the NHS Annual Meeting on Thursday, October 21, at Mill Race Village.