The early settlers came to Chagrin Falls because they recognized the potential for the power of the river for industry. The first dam on the river was built by Chester Bushnell in 1834. It had a fall of 9 feet and an undershot vertical wheel powered a saw mill.
Within 10 years, 9 different dams were built, harnessing the power of the river. The first dams powered industries that were necessary for a growing village such as grist mills, saw mills, a joinery and planing mill, and a flour mill. By 1842, the village had a population of more than 600 people.
As the town grew, mills shifted from manufacturing what was needed to build and sustain a community to manufacturing products designed for export. Items produced in Chagrin Falls were sold in markets throughout the country and around the world.