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The Page Begins Here

A Personal Remembrance of John Blake Campbell

A story for you,
and a picture.

The story first please. It's hard to find a place to start my story as it has sprouted like a tree since I first was searching the web last year about old mills in preparation for a job I volunteered for. That job was to pull the two turbines out of the millrace and get all the doors and things working so the wheels would at least go around and things upstairs would turn. I have been interested in water power since I was a kid growing up in the south east end of Pennsylvania, I think it started when my father, an electrician working for himself, took me on jobs he did for old Mr. Campbell. I had put your web site in my favorite spots and had read all that your site had to offer on water wheels, turbines and stones and how to dress them. I was going through my favorites today and decided to open your site again. You had moved since my last visit. I followed the instructions and was looking around in the new site and found a link to the Campbell Water Wheel Company. Well I had to look in there. I was quite surprised at what I found. I was born in the town of Media, Pa., and spent a lot of time down at the water works but never did see the water wheels. I guess in the fifties everything was electric. In the web site the writer speaks of Mr. Campbell "driving his old car and wearing a dark heavy coat and hat". It is my recollection that it was summer when I was home from school that I had to ride with Mr Campbell, while my brother rode with my father, as we went to work on a well pump somewhere in Pa. I never saw the heavy coat. What I do remember very clearly about the trip are the many notes that were taped to the dash, one with very big letters that said "keep your eyes on the road". My father told me later that the notes were to remind Mr. Campbell of things he had to do and the one with the large letters was from his wife. I didn't ride back home with him that day because he scared me so bad with his driving. His wife was right, he needed to keep his eyes on the road. Through all the many years, I never forgot about the Campbell Water Wheel Company. In my collection of antiques that are on display in my house, I have a nameplate from the Campbell Company for wheel number 180 issued to W. Standley Stokes, ESQ, May 7, 1931.

Thank you for the wonderful story about Mr. Campbell. I forwarded the e-mail onto a friend who also knew Mr. Campbell, and he said, "That e-mail story is Mr. Campbell all over. He would have made a great interview for Charles Kuralt or CBS Sunday Morning. Your "Tinkering" correspondent sounds like another American original." I was wondering if I could put your e-mail and the image onto my web site in memory of Mr. Campbell. I would create a page that would be a tribute to John Blake Campbell. I would not add anything to it only your e-mail story and image. I would not put up your e-mail address unless you wanted me to. Please let me know. I would like to share it with others. Thanks again. That was the best e-mail I received in a long time. Ted Hazen

Your very welcome for the story about Mr. Campbell. I feel my fifteen minutes of fame has arrived, I would be honored to have a memory from my childhood of a man I for some reason remember very well put on the web for all to enjoy. I don't know much about him other then taking phone calls from him to have my father call and the ride we had, but he must have planted a seed in me that has kept me interested in water power and old things. Maybe your web site will do that for someone also. I don't want my email address listed on the site but if you get inquiries and you feel that they are genuine I would like them forwarded if you would. If you would like I could take a digital picture of the nameplate, I put it in the scanner and I'm not sure just how good it is, or I would be more then willing to send it to you for you to do it, I would expect it back though. In my effort to get a proper letter out to you (my wife checked that one, not this one) I forgot to sign my name. I'm sorry. James Ford Embreeville,Pa (about thirty miles West of Media) PS: There was another picture on you site that was very familiar to me, I'll be looking around for "Runnymede" hunting box of Mr. J. Stanley Reeves, I know I was at a place that looked like that.

John Blake Campbell, photo by John McGrain.

Ted: (1) That e-mail story is Mr. Campbell all over. He would have made a great interview for Charles Kuralt or CBS Sunday Morning. Your "Tinkering" correspondent sounds like another Americaan original. (2) An entire new mill popped up in Howard County on June 17, written up in the Real Estate news---it has been a residence for about six years; I had no idea it survived; near the paper mill town of Ilchester.-----John McGrain, County Historian

John Blake Campbell, 97; Master of the Dying Craft of Water Wheels.

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Copyright 2001 by T. R. Hazen