Photos of Empire Mills courtesy of NYGEN Web
Sodus Center has the largest body of water (Metz Pond) in Wayne County other than Lake Ontario. This 23.5 acre pond provided a wonderful source of power to a number of mills since the early 1800s.
The following information is from the 1979 book: “Wayne County: The Aesthetic Heritage of a Rural Area” by Stephen W. Jacobs with Photographs by David Plowden. Permission courtesy of the Wayne County Historical Society.
The mill sites along the streams in the northern part of the county were pre-empted between 1807 and 1811. The most dramatic falls are at Wolcott, but the most complete and impressive group of mills is at Sodus Center. There, in 1808, Silas F. Andrews built a gristmill on the south side of Salmon Creek, which flows into Maxwell Bay, and Seth Hawks and John J. S. Taylor built a sawmill on the north side. The latter remained in operation quite steadily, but the gristmill site was also used for a carding mill and foundry, and probably a tannery as well. The scenic millpond is the largest in the county and buildings at its outfall form a handsome group. About 1860 Elisha Mather settled in Sodus Center, and built a new sawmill and gristmill. In 1900 the latter was remodeled into a warehouse for dried fruit. Canning remains the major industry today.
The remains of the mills as they appeared in October, 2011. Photos courtesy of Edith Farrington