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Riley's Island

Riley's Island was south of Hamilton in the Great Miami River. Traber's Mill was on the east side of the river, about a mile south of Hamilton. It was built in 1818 by John Traber and Henry Traber in Fractional Section 1 in Fairfield Township. The mill drew water from the river by a dam built by Joseph Watson, who had erected a mill on the opposite bank, south of Rossville. The water was brought to the mill by a mile-long race. Mrs. Heiser said the race began at "a gentle curve in the river -- a curve not abrupt enough to cause the river to leave its natural course during high water. This was the race that made Riley's Island." It was called Riley's Island after the family which owned the tract. Today it is no longer an island. Its connection to the east bank of the river was completed in the early 1950s when Neilan Boulevard was built. The levee along the river was extended at that time, creating two ponds where the main channel had been in the early 1800s. The land west of the present ends of Williams and Laurel avenues, south of the low-level dam, is the site of the Hamilton wastewater treatment plant. A bike-hiking trail extends along the western bank of what had been Riley's Island. In October 1995, the City of Hamilton dedicated the 150-acre Riverside Natural Area on the former island. The park along the river includes woodlands, wetlands, a lagoon and prairie, much of it accessible by a 1,400-foot wood-chip path. The wildlife preservation area had been used as dumping site for sludge from the wastewater treatment plant. The dump was closed in 1988 and the city established a $112,000 fund to finance restoration of the site.

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