If you are visiting Milford for the day, here is an idea of some things to do and see …off the beaten track.
If you start the day off with a nice little hike you will feel better about drinking a few cocktails with lunch. Depending upon your enthusiasm, or lack of enthusiasm, for walking in the woods, there are options. A walk through Milford Cemetery is a stroll through time with many interesting stops along the way. The cemetery is said to have, maybe, quite possibly, we can’t prove it-been designed by Frederick Law Olmstead. But no matter who designed it, it is quite lovely!
The many monuments and headstones span hundreds of years and include the final resting places of many noteworthy people including Charles Saunders Peirce, philosopher and jerky genius. His ashes are buried along with the body of his second wife Juliette. When Charles died he left Juliette in squalor, and upon her death many years later, the Pinchot Family paid for her burial and original headstone. The present day monument to Pierce and Juliette was funded by the Peirce Society a few years ago after a debate over where Charles’ body might be? It was decided his ashes were in the urn buried with Madame Peirce and permission was granted to so extravagantly acknowledge his burial at that spot. Other notables taking up residence in Milford Cemetery include many honorable Veterans of War, Jeannie Gourlay, who was a member of the cast of the play being performed the night President Lincoln was assassinated, and the mysterious “Billings Witch.” Interest piqued?
If you park at the Callahan House down on Harford Street, the walk up the drive to the cemetery will get the heart pumping, and at the entrance make note of the cemetery sign which includes some information not seen on many other cemetery signs, if any. Combine your lunch with a visit to an old grain mill which boasts a large, working, waterwheel and take yourself on a self guided tour of Rowe’s Mill which includes an up close view of all the elements that allowed for production of the finest buck wheat flour in the county. You can see this, and grab some lunch and libation at the Water Wheel Café, located on Water Street on the outskirts of town. There are a few shops to browse here as well, including Water Wheel Guitars, where some of the areas finest musicians often gather to talk shop.
After lunch, a trip to the Columns Museum on Broad Street will surprise and delight! While the Museum’s claim to fame may be a large 36 star American Flag stained with the blood of President Lincoln, the two floors of exhibits include many other interesting and unusual items including the noose used in the only public hanging to take place in the borough of Milford, a bunch of dead birds which were stuffed and preserved so John James Audubon could sketch them, and an original Helene Curtis “Empress” permanent wave machine-which is quite shocking! A stop at Ann Street Park, located in the center of the village, will allow you the opportunity to take a ride on “the puke machine.” The merry go round in the park was dubbed such by decades of juvenile delinquents who would dare each other to sit on it while the rest pushed it to a dizzying speed…hence the name. Feeling lucky? Give it a whirl. If you are looking for a less gut wrenching park experience, you can feed the Koi at Apple Valley Village and re-live your school days by visiting the 1850’s “little red schoolhouse” located there. Known as the Schocopee Schoolhouse it was removed from it original site-board by board-and relocated to its present day site. It contains original desks, bell and “black” boards and is home to “King Tut” a mummified cat found under the building during the move. The Schoohouse is open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 12-4 in July and August, so plan accordingly; and fish food, for the Koi, may be purchased at Mr. and Mrs. Cigar, also located in Apple Valley Village.
End your day of wonder and adventure with a walk through the heart of Milford and peruse the shops and dining options, and unwind-your head and heart now full of odd history and the sights and sounds of our town that not everyone has seen and heard. And your stomach? Well, it might be empty if you got on the merry-go-round-so enjoy your dinner in the establishment of your choice; I’m done telling you what to do.