Business is booming in Old Fort, and history is alive at Bob Gillmor's Gillmor Ordnance.
The foundry, located in Seneca County for about thirty years, creates functional cannons, from miniature to life sized, for personal and entertainment uses.
Gillmor started in this line of work when he participated in Civil War reenactments. He would experiment with cannon making as a hobby, until he purchased a foundry and created Gillmor Ordnance, Ltd.
Having started in the nineties with the support of the Sandusky County visitor’s bureau, he began training the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library & Museum reenactors at the Hayes encampment on how to use and guide their horses and horse drawn artillery.
In the late nineties, Gillmor purchased the Moyer Foundry and moved its contents to his property in Old Fort.
“I couldn’t stop,” he said. “I just kept making things. I was always blowing up stuff.”
These skills got him noticed by the movie industry, Gillmor said, and soon he started traveling to support what his wife called “a habit”, he said.
Not long after, he was one of thousands of reenactors who worked on “Gods and Generals”, but due to his experience in artillery, he quickly moved over to the artillery crew.
Gillmor has been a part of movies such as Field of Lost Shoes, John Adams, The War That Made America, Into the West, The Last Samurai, Gods & Generals, and the AMC show Turn: Washington’s Spies. Currently housed in his warehouse are the cannons used on Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World.
“I was Tom Cruise’s personal safety guy,” he said.
He has also been a part of the Pyrate Fest at Put-in-Bay, where his cannons are featured and are fired off at every hour during the event in June. He provides the “First Shot” at Camp Perry every July, and has made cannons for football teams such as the University of Toledo and Bowling Green State University.
Gillmor has also provided a cannon for the start of Old Fort’s cross country races.
Outside of his work with the entertainment industry, Gillmor also creates cannons made to order, along with challenge coins, mortars, plaques, car parts, belt buckles, and bells.
Other projects include making siege guns for the National Park Service—Gillmor said he can do all the work, beginning to end, in house.
“I do it the old way,” he said. “You’ve got to do it right. I do it all. Very few do the whole thing.”
He also provided a cannon for the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims’ landing in Plymouth Rock.
On why he keeps his home base in Seneca County, Gillmor said it was because of the location.
“You miss Ohio,” he said. “It ain’t all about the money.”
Call ahead to set up your visit to Gillmor Ordnance—he might be on a shoot! Gillmor can give cannon demonstrations on your visit. Call 419-355-6977 or visit his website for more information.
Gillmor stands next to one of his restoration projects, a gun taken during World War II from Manila.
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