Fernwood gets new water wheelPublished 5:40pm Thursday, July 11, 2013
Fernwood Botanical Garden and Nature Preserve’s iconic water wheel is turning again after being out of commission off and on for several months.
A new 7-foot, 480-pound rustic-style water wheel was installed Thursday. Fernwood was able to purchase the new wheel thanks to a donation by Fernwood members Sandra and Michael Ruddick, of Des Plaines, Ill.
“They saw our need and responded quickly and so generously,” said Carol Line, executive director of Fernwood.
The original water wheel was dedicated in 1983 to T. Walter Boydston, who, along with his wife, Kay, owned the Fernwood property until it became a public garden in 1964. Walter died in 1981, so Walter’s friends and children dedicated the water wheel in his memory.
Kent Buell then rebuilt the water wheel in 2003. A piece of the original water wheel can still be found mounted on the outside of the structure on which the water wheel is mounted.
Jan Ferris, special projects manager at Fernwood, said the water wheel was featured on the front of the Niles-Buchanan phone book several years ago.
“It is one of our most iconic elements at Fernwood .… thousands of visitors have taken pictures at the water wheel, plus a lot of wedding pictures are taken here,” she said. “We are happy to have it up and running again.”
Ferris said a staff member at Fernwood is planning on using the old wheel as a garden feature somewhere on the Fernwood grounds.
Plans for the original water wheel will be on display at a historical exhibit next year during Fernwood’s 50th anniversary.
The new water wheel was purchased from Back Mountain Timberworks in Maysville, Ga. It’s only purpose is aesthetic.
Ferris said the donors did not wish to disclose the cost of the water wheel.