of Mills Circa 1850-70
A Grist Mill: The above drawing is of a grist mill, and not an
Oliver Evans mill or a "new process" mill which was also typical
of the same time period. One pair of millstones and bolter would have been
used for wheat, a second pair of millstones was used for corn and still
a third pair used for other grains. The above example of a grist mill interior
may be that of David Craik's Church Mills, Chateaugay, Franklin County,
This is an example of a reel-type bolting machine that is in the Oakdale
Grist Mill (circa 1760) at Connetquot River State Park on Long Island, New
York. The bottom of the chest also serves as a meal bin. The reel is tilted
slightly, higher at the head (were the drive pulley is located and the intake
feed) than at the tail or foot. The 1760 Oakdale Grist Mill is an American
tub wheel mill, and the above photo may have been taken after the restoration
that may have brought in items from other mills. Tub mills generally only
operate the primary milling machinery, the millstones, and rarely operate
any secondary milling machinery, such as bolters or elevators. The side
of the bolting machine chest does say in painted letters "Howard, Oakdale."
The original date of the mills construction seems rather early for a millwright
or owner to label a piece of machinery that they constructed. The machinery
produced by Oliver Evans' flour machinery company in Philadelphia did not
identity the manufacturer with a name, insignia design or logo.
"New Process" Mill: This is a stylized drawing of a
"New Process" mill of the 1850's to 1870's. The first grinder
or pair of regular millstones grinds the grain in the first grinding. The
auxiliary grinder or middlings millstones regrinds the middlings. See Leung,
Felicity L., Grist and Flour Mills in Ontario: From Millstones to Rollers,
1780's-1880's, National Historic Parks and Sites Branch, Department of Canadian
Heritage, Parks Canada, Ministry of Public Works and Government Services
Canada, Ottawa, 1976, reprint SPOOM, 1997, for a good explanation for the
"New Process" system.
The Rensselaerville Grist Mill and the Caverns Creek Grist Mill (Howe's
Cave Mill), Howe's Cave, New York, are both examples of "New Process"
mills. The above photo shows the silent feed system at the The Rensselaerville
Grist Mill, Rensselaerville, New York, and the photo at the bottom of the
page shows a conventional feed system at the Old Mill, Garland, Warren County,
Oliver Evans Mill: Original drawing by Prof. B. W. Dedrick 1931.
For an article, "Plan and Power of a Flour Mill of Many Years Ago,"
by Prof. B. W. Dedrick, Director Mechanical Engineering, Pennsylvania State
College, State College, Pennsylvania, for The Millers Review and Feed Forum,
Redrawn by T. R. Hazen for clarity and reproduction, 1996. This is a more
typical mill representing the time period.
The best interior mill photo that I have found in 30 years. Why? How
many things can you identify as being in the photo? Is it just too unclear
as to what is what? You have to be a real mill expert to know what is what.
This photo best represents the interior of an old mill because mills are
a forest of machinery, (diagonal) elevator legs, and chutes. The interiors
are covered with dust, cobwebs, spilled grain and flour. There are various
cloth and paper sacks arranged in so only narrow rows are left for the miller
to walk through. Anyone who tried to walk through the mill would get covered
with flour dust and cobwebs. Interpretive trash, and not the stuff that
architectural award winning mill restorations are made of. This show you
the real difference between real mills and the sterile environments that
historical mills can become.
So what is the point of all this? Is there one set blueprint for all mills?
No, mills are as different as finger prints. To learn what a mill may have
looked like, you have to ask the same questions that when the mill was built
or constructed on day one. First of all, what types of grain will the mill
grind. What products will the mill produce and how much in a set time period.
And finally what type of milling operation will it be? A corn mill is very
different than a mill that was build to grind wheat, and much different
than a mill that was constructed to just buckwheat. Often restored mills
don't grind the types of grain and the original products that the mill was
intended to produce. At a certain point in time mills in America stopped
looking like English mills. Mills in America became distinctively American
mills that became much different that English or European mills. Read some
of my other web pages and discover why. Perhaps for reasons of misguided
idealism or nostalgia some mills were continued to be construct into the
19th and 20th centuries using traditional 18th century styles and designs.
To be Continued
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Copyright 2001 by T.R. Hazen.