Beautiful Moments at Taylor Mill Historic Site

Taylor Mill is a historical site tucked into a small corner of Derry New Hampshire. The site, which is a joint venture of New Hampshire State Parks and The Division of Forests and Lands, lies in a less traveled section of the state. I came across the site by accident. Stumbling upon a picture of Taylor Mill, I knew had to go there. It was late in the afternoon when I arrived, but I was immediately struck by the beauty here. The historic mill sits at the head of the pond. Spring surrounded the entire property with a quiet beauty. Taylor Mill is a great property to visit, because there are so many small things that make it special.

Up at the Mill. Photo By Colleen Ann.
Up at the Mill.
Photo By Colleen Ann.


The design of Taylor Mill is beautiful in its simplicity. The Mill was built for practical reasons, but overtime has become a beautiful structure. In some sections age has taken its toll, and small spaces are beginning to show. As I peered at them, I could see the evening sunlight peeking through. The old worn boards varied in grain and color. Near the top they were a deep brown, just as the day they were stained. Further down where the sun and  rain has worn them, they were an even honey color. Further down the wood was gray and worn thin. It created a strange cascade of color, yet in many ways it was incredibly beautiful. Everywhere I looked I found small things that enhance the appearance of the the old mill.

Latch. Photo By Colleen Ann.
Photo By Colleen Ann.


Taylor Mill is close to Manchester and Nashua which makes it a convenient day trip. Yet it’s tucked away in an spot where you feel as if you’re hidden from the world. As I walked around that afternoon, I was struck by the peaceful quiet of the property. A trip there can give you pause to think about what New Hampshire was once like. Taylor Mill is a physical representation of our past.  The thick quiet was broken only by the water tumbling over the dam. This mix of easy accessibility and old charm creates a perfect atmosphere. Taylor Mill is the perfect place to get away from the hectic nature of life, and just sit back and relax for a while.

Color Changes. Photo By Colleen Ann.
Color Changes.
Photo By Colleen Ann.

The Taylor Mill is full of history. In 1799 Robert Taylor bought the property and built the mill. A massive water wheel, bolted to the side of the mill was used to power the structure.  This land also speaks to preservation. In 1939 when Ernest Ballard bought the property, the original mill had been forgotten. He took the time and the money necessary to rebuild a mill on the property keep the history of the “Up and Down” mill alive.  At Taylor Mill you can learn firsthand about the history of sawmills in New Hampshire. This site also pays tribute to the spirit of Ernest Ballard. He knew how important it was to keep the site alive for future generations. At Taylor Mill you can see both preservation and history in action.

Towards the Mill. Photo By Colleen Ann.
Towards the Mill.
Photo By Colleen Ann.

Stone Walls

On the far side of the dam, a stonewall runs the length of Ballard Pond.  It was something seemingly mundane, but I couldn’t help but admire it. Stone walls take a considerable amount of work to create and tend. It speaks to tradition, and the work ethic of the people who came before us. Stonewalls are very unique as well. Much like snowflakes, no rock in a stonewall is identical to its neighbor. Every stone is a little different from the other, even if it has come from the same rock.  They come in all sizes and colors, and create a wonderful mosaic of geology. Something as simple as changing your perspective can allow you to appreciate this small part of this beautiful place.

Never the Same. Photo By Colleen Ann.
Never the Same.
Photo By Colleen Ann.

By The Pond

Due to its reliance on hydro-power, Taylor Mill lays at the head of Ballard Pond. This creates beautiful scenes and many opportunities for pictures. The warm weather had begun to melt the ice that had covered the pond. I made my way towards the path that weaves behind the mill and into the woods that skirts the pond. As the sun began to sink behind the trees, the old mills reflection became clear upon the ponds surface. Leaning down to take pictures I was met with the thick smell of the thawing ground. The cold emanated up from the ponds surface and suddenly I was immersed in the beauty of the entire scene. Taylor Mill is a place where you can take the time to experience all parts of Spring.

Simple Reflection. Photo By Colleen Ann.
Simple Reflection.
Photo By Colleen Ann.

Taylor Mill is a small site, but it is filled with character. My short visit convinced me that there is much more to this site, and I look forward to exploring it further, later this Spring and during Summer.  Whether you’re admiring the architecture of the old building, going for a walk, or just looking for a place to get away from it all, Taylor Mill is the place.


Colleen O'Connell

My name is Colleen. I am a writer, and a life-long resident of New Hampshire. Growing up in the Southwestern part of the state, I spent most of my free time outside. As I have grown and matured, my love for New Hampshire and its natural beauty has grown as well. I spend most of my free time hiking, skiing, and exploring the natural beauty of our state. I enjoy the natural wonders of our state, and sharing these experiences and places with others through my writing.

2 thoughts to “Beautiful Moments at Taylor Mill Historic Site”

  1. Hi, Michele………Your story about Taylor Mill was very interesting to me. When we were raising our children, we used to come out here to swim & play. There was a thick, long rope hanging from one of the trees on the right hand side of the pond, & my 4 kids loved to swing on that rope out over the water, & then ‘Drop In’!
    It was a fantastic place to picnic & play, and probably still is.

    There is one special day in the spring that the ‘Powers that Be’ activate the mill & actually saw some tree trunks to make lumber. It’s a fantastic sight. Or, at least it was. I’m 88 years old now, & my kids are at the mid-century point, but it’s still a nostalgic place for me. Thanks, Pat Collupy

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