By Becky Lindhardt
What's in a name? For the Stockport Mill Inn, its name defines its status as an inn in a renovated mill in the town of Stockport, Ohio.
The name, however, cannot describe the natural beauty of its location on the Muskingum River or the sound of the water as it rushes over the lowhead dam that stretches across the river connecting the inn and Lock No. 6 on the eastern shore.
"Some of our guests are so entranced by the sound of the water that they sleep with the balcony doors open," said Dottie Singer, owner of the Stockport Mill Inn. "For me, I can hear it fine with the doors closed."
That sound is a constant as millions of gallons of water flow over the dam each hour, water that has been harnessed for commercial purposes since the first mill was built on the site in 1841.
The present mill, the third, has operated continuously, first as a grist mill, then as a feed mill until 1999 before opening as a hotel in May 2000.
When constructed in 1907, the multistory mill included a water-powered generator that provided electricity for the mill and later the streetlights of Stockport.
The beautiful, massive structural elements remain in the central core of the mill's four-story wooden structure.
Most of the guest rooms were constructed along the outer walls with private balconies that provide guests with panoramic views of the river.
At the top, the Captain Hook Suite encompasses the fourth floor and includes two bedrooms, a six-person hot tub, seating area with gas fireplace, kitchenette, dining area - and, access up a spiral staircase to the Mill's cupola to augment the river view from a private balcony.
"This year, more people have been watching the hilltop than the river," said Singer. "Bald eagles built a nest early in the spring in a half-dead tree across the river. We set up a telescope for guests to watch the nest from the restaurant balcony.
"Some people used binoculars from their balconies. Earlier we saw two eaglets, but only one seems to have survived. That one is full size now and about ready to fly."
It seems appropriate that early settlers named the stream just to the north Bald Eagle Creek.
Many of the early pioneers came up the Muskingum from the busy Ohio River.
By car, you can explore the lower Muskingum Valley on quiet country roads that run along the river.
Twenty minutes north in McConnelsville, the Twin Cities Opera House dominates the courthouse square and has been restored to offer a venue for local performances as well as movies in a 150-seat theater with historic character.
Traveling about an hour south, you can visit Marietta, where you can enjoy a cruise on the "Valley Gem," a stern-wheel replica, catch a theatrical performance on the stern-wheeler Becky Thatcher or visit the historic steam-powered towboat W.P. Snyder moored at the Ohio River Museum.