Charles Mill Dam is located on the Black Fork of the Mohican River, 10 miles east of Mansfield and 10 miles southwest of Ashland, Ohio. The lake is located in Ashland and Richland counties with the dam being located in Ashland County. Charles Mill Dam was constructed in 1935-36 and is primarily for flood control but also for recreation and fish and wildlife management.
Charles Mill Dam is a rolled earth fill dam with an impervious, water resistant, clay core. The dam, is 48 feet high, 1,390 feet long and 20 feet wide. This flood reduction system also includes two dikes and one levee. These structures, the dam, dikes and levee, hold the water that may build up behind them from the 215 square mile drainage area the dam serves. The dam also has two spillways to handle water above the maximum the dam is designed to hold; one is built into the gate house, the other is beyond the gate house against the right abutment. There are five gates which allow the water to pass through the dam and provide control of it. During the summer months the lake is kept at about 31 feet at the dam which provides 1,350 surface acers of water. At that level the water is backed up the Black Fork about 5.2 miles. When the dam is holding the maximum flood water it is designed to hold there would be 6,050 surface acres of water behind the dam and water would be backed up the Black Fork 19.8 miles.
The Day Use Area below the dam is a peaceful, scenic place to picnic with grills, tables, (one is accessible), rest rooms and, in 2006, a new playground was installed. The restrooms are open on a seasonal basis (May-September). There are open grassy areas for playing and the river nearby. Fishing is a popular activity in this area.
The Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District administers the recreation facilities on the lake behind the dam through their facilities at Charles Mill Lake Park. They host an annual classic car show in early Sept., for more information contact Charles Mill Lake Park Office at (419) 368-6885 or visit their web site at mwcdlakes.com.
There is a Historical Marker in the Day Use Area that recounts the story's of "Frontier Violence During the War of 1812" and "English-Allied Indian Attacks." An attack took place within a mile of the dam site following the removal of the Piqua Indians from their tribal home area. The Native Americans first attacked the home of the Frederick Zimmer family, and their neighbor Martin Rufferner, killing everyone. Several days later four more pioneers were killed while defending the home of the James Copus family, including Rev. James Copus. As you drive South on 603 watch for the sign directing you to a historical monument erected to the memory of those settlers and soldiers who were killed. In 2006 a new fence was erected around the monument, a photo is included in the photo section on this site. Members of the Copus family have held an annual reunion in this picnic area for years. Tradition holds that Johnny Appleseed raced throughout the area warning others following the attacks. In 2004 the Johnny Appleseed Heritage Center opened nearby.
Bicycles are permitted on all roadways in the Day Use Area at Charles Mill Dam and on all state road ways. Bicycles are also permitted in Charles Mill Lake Park, run by Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District, it is located on Rt 430 about 3 miles from the dam. Take Rt 603 to the village of Mifflin, turn left onto Rt 430. CAll MWCD at (419) 368-5951 or visit their web site at www.mwcd.org.
There is no boating access to the lake or river at the dam. However MWCD offers a public launch ramp for the boating enthusiasts and fishermen at the Charles Mill Lake Marina. To get to that area from the dam proceed on Rt 603 to the village of Mifflin, turn left onto Rt 430, the distance is about 3 miles. The marina is open year round, there is a 10 Hp limit on the lake. For more information call the marina @ (419) 368-5951. Canoing is a popular activity, there are many suppliers in the area, call The Loudonville-Mohican Area Tourist Association at 800-722-7588 or in Loudonville call 800-766-2267.
The closest camping area to Charles Mill Dam is at Charles Mill Lake Park. The campground is run by MWCD call them at (419) 368-6885 or visit their website @ www.mwcdlakes.com. The new Federal Recreation Pass or any others are not honored at MWCD facilities, but anyone over the age of 60 or those who have a Golden Buckeye Card receive a 10% discount. Additional information about the federal recreation pass program is available at http://www.recreation.gov/recpass.jsp or by calling 1-888-276-8747 (1-888-ASK USGS).
Fishing is a very popular activity at Charles Mill Dam Day Use Area; both below and above the dam. Below the dam the river is easy to get to, the setting is scenic and peaceful, and the restrooms and picnic facilities are convenient. Above the dam the fishing access is just a bit farther away from other recreation areas.
Universally Accessible picnic table and grill, as well as the rest rooms, are provided at the Charles Mill Lake Day Use Area on a seasonal basis May through mid October.
Limited hiking is available around Charles Mill Dam. For more information contact the U.S.Army Corps of Engineers Charles Mill Lake Project Office @ (419) 368-4334 or MWCD's Charles Mill Lake Park Office @ (419) 368-6885.
Horseback riding is available from private businesses near Loudonville Ohio.
Public hunting is available on MWCD land. Maps for public hunting and fishing areas can be obtained from MWCD @ (330) 343-6647 or visit their website @ www.mwcdlakes.com.
There is one marina located on the lake, which is operated by a private enterprise. For all boating inquiries contact Charles Mill Lake Marina @ (419) 368-5951.
There is an exceptionally attractive Picnic Area at Charles Mill Dam. Located in the Day Use Area below the dam it is well shaded and offers picnic tables, grills and rest rooms, an accessable picnic table, and in 2006 an inviting new playground was installed. The bathrooms are also accessable. There are large open grassy areas for play as well as a stream and the river. Pets are welcome as long as they are kept on a leash and are cleaned up after. A pet ferret was a recent visitor with his family. This is an ideal place for the whole family to relax. For more information call the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project office for Charles Mill Dam at (419) 368-4334.
No swimming areas are available at this project. MWCD has one designated swimming area within it's park. For more information contact Charles Mill Lake Park Office @ (419) 368-6885.
There is no visitor center available at this project.