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HomeSPOOM 2020 Old Mill Photo Contest Stories

2020 SPOOM Old Mill Photo Contest Story Time

Welcome to the 2020
SPOOM Online Photo Contest Story Time.

As part of the photo contest we asked for stories about the photos. Here is a selection of some of those stories. Some tell the history of the mill while others tell of a more personal encounter.

Click on the photo to enlarge

Kings Landing Sawmill - New Brunswick
Submitted by: Herbert Crosby

This photo shows the exterior of a water-powered sash sawmill at Kings Landing, New Brunswick, during a beautiful fall day. This working sawmill was built in the 1970's to show what life was like 100 years earlier.

Spring Mill - Mitchel, Indiana
Submitted by: Tommy Wade

These are a few of the buildings in the village at Spring Mill. The Mill was built in 1817 and the two blue buildings are original buildings from the early 1800s. The blue building on the left is the mercantile, which served as the post office in 1831, and the right is the apothecary. Dr. Lemon was the doctor here from the early 1830s to 1856. The Mill still grinds cornmeal daily but unable to grind for the public currently. Hugh Hamer was the postmaster in 1831 of Spring Mill.

Kirby's Mill - Richfield, Ohio
Submitted by: Joan Gottschling

Jim Kirby, of Kirby Vacuum cleaner fame, had his workshop in this electricity producing over shot mill fro 1920-1937. He had over 200 patents and did much of his creating here. He was an avid fisherman and created the dam with the mill built right into it. His house and a dance hall, built on street car springs, is on the property both lighted by his electric producing mill. This property is located in Richfield, Ohio at the Richfield Heritage Preserve. The friends group is restoring the mill.

Grist Mill at Historic Batsto Village, New Jersey
Submitted by: Gerry DeMuro

The dark side of the mill and the foreground are intentionally dark as the focus of the mill and story is about the boat dock and the water access to the Atlantic ocean transportation to eastern port cities and Europe.

Circa 1828: Can you find "the secret" embedded in this Grist Mill photo that was responsible for the rapid economic expansion of Colonial America? This 1828 Batsto, New Jersey Grist Mill (in photo) is representative of a critical, economically vital, yet often little known and under appreciated (secret) story of how some American Colonial Era grist mills were successfully designed and built in the North Eastern portion of the United States. Their secret, hidden in plain sight, shown in this Mill photo, was the commercially influential mill water boat dock (a precursor/before railroads). These mills thus utilized shallow water that was also "micro-navigable" with low and wide beam/bog type sailing vessels [see Batsto- Bog Ore boats]. They cleverly and economically used these shallow waterways as tributaries that ultimately lead to the Atlantic Ocean, or areas with access to water where deeper keel boats could offer better mercantile transport, more efficiently taking finished products to East Coast markets and Europe. The mill water boat dock, therefore, reduced transportation costs and time for the transport of raw materials to the water accessible mill, which in turn allowed for the more efficient transport of finished products from these mills. Thus, the mill boat water dock was an important economic driver that gave small mills a positive competitive and financial tool that permitted them to directly cater to local farmers, which in turn allowed these navigable accessible water mills to be more sustainable and much more competitive than inland mills without access to navigable waterways. Of course many mills were located with deep water access, either way, these mills utilized their boat docks to more efficiently move their wares. Some grist mills that were designed for this economic advantage of a water boat dock include: Mount Vernon VA.-1771, Sleepy Hollow, NY-1680, Tide mill Farm, ME- 1700s, Batsto, NJ - 1828, Hackensack Mill, NJ- 1700s, Woods Hole, MA, Mill Pond Mill, -1700s and many grist mills in Pennsylvania that had creeks leading to the commercially deep Delaware River.
Gerry DeMuro
Board Chair, Northern Heritage Mills
Dr. Jean W. Gupta [Science Chair, Northern Heritage Mills] and I met for lunch with the Director of Historic Batsto Village, where she personally guided us through the mill, and who also provided us with information regarding historic water mill boat docks along the Eastern Coast of the USA.

McDonald Mill - Blackburg Virginia
Submitted by: Ned Yost

Owned by the McDonald family from 1760s to 1952 when it was purchased by the Yost family. It operated into the 1930s, with the wheel taken down as a hazard in the 1950s. This is the third mill on the site. The quilt design is by a Yost daughter.

Walkers Mill - Wilmington, Deleware
Submitted by: Karen Peterson

Walker's Mill, on the Brandywine River, was built between 1813 and 1815 as a cotton spinning mill by Joseph Sims. The DuPont Company acquired the mill in 1840. It was leased to Joseph Walker in the later 1840s and became known as Walker's Mill. This was one of our Covid-19 history outings.

Cox's Mill - New Market, Tennessee
Submitted by: Stephanie Satter

Cox's Mill, purchased by the photographer in 2013. The mill was built by my great-great-great-great-great-grandfather William Cox in 1792. It was sold out of the family in 1875 when great-great-grandfather moved to Oregon, and then Washington State. We saw an ad for the Mill for sale, drove to Tennessee, and bought it back. We live in Washington State so we have a long commute to our second home.

Good Hope Mill
Submitted by: Todd Milano

This Robinson Unique Sifter was rescued from the Fetterrolf Mill PA-022-022 in April 2016 just prior to that mill's demise. Relocated to the Good Hope Mill it makes a powerful first impression when guests enter. Rachael Zuch completed the cleaning, reassembling and more in August of 2020.

Woodson's Mill - Lowesville, Virginia
Submitted by: Robert Hiller

On a warm August Sunday in Nelson County, VA, I travelled the back roads to observe a relic from the past (a mill known as Piney River Mill was originally built on this site in 1794). I met several enterprising young men namely Charlie Wade and Aaron Grigsby who were assisted by Ian Gamble. The team of Millers were bringing this mill back to life. Visiting the mill that August day I was able to step back in time.

Kottmarsdorf Windmill - Kottmarsdorf, Germany
Submitted by: Michael O'Shea

A 360 degree panoramic of the TIMS visitors intently watching the turning of this very large post 

Manor Mill - Monkton, Maryland
Submitted by: Angela Otterbein

I wasn't planning on submitting this particular photo but since I just joined SPOOM this year and took ownership of this 1820s grist mill this past November, thought I would include it for your records. It needs a lot of work, so this front shot is as good as it gets!

Bowen's Mill - Middleton, Indiana
Submitted by: Jane Ammeson

A restored 1864 grist mill and cider mill now a working museum that still grinds and sells fresh corn meal through the use of water-powered mill stone. It's part of a collection of historic buildings located on 19 acres in western Michigan

Laurel Mill - Louisburg, North Carolina
Submitted by: Denny House

Picture taken of my mill outside of Louisburg NC. during a snowy winter day.

G.T. Wlburn Mill - Leoma, Tennessee
Submitted by: Piper Smith

Taken from a john boat upstream the historic G.T. Wilburn Grist mill ahead of the falls.

Woodson's Mill - Beaverdam, Virginia
Submitted by: Dr. King Davis

The picturesque three-story Beaverdam Mill was built around 1816 along the Little River where it sits across from the miller's house in rural Hanover County, Virginia. After a series of temporary owners, Calvin Woodson operated the grist mill from 1915 to 1952 to grind corn, barley, wheat, and soy, into flower and meal for area farmers. After he died it suffered substantial damage from flooding, advanced age, weather, infestation, and pesky beavers. Restoration started in 2015 with new owners.


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