Hervey White moved to Chagrin Falls from Garrettsville, OH in 1842 and erected a dam on the Chagrin River with 21 feet of fall, utilizing an undershot water wheel to power his saw mill. Additional buildings housed machinery for turning axe handles, a foundry and cupola furnace where the axe heads were cast and finished.
When he arrived, the forests in the area were dense and demand for his axes was high. For many years, he was very productive and employed a large number of men. Living quarters were provided for his workers and the area became known as Whitesburg.
Within 20 years, the land in the region was cleared of trees and the demand for his axes dropped. Clearing the land also reduced the supply of hardwood in the immediate area for his handles. He closed his factory and the site eventually became a woolen mill. The acreage became Whitesburg Nature Preserve in 1997.