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Classical Milling Illustrations

The Medieval Mill

Classical Milling Illustrations
Collected by Theodore R. Hazen

Ramelli's Mill circa 1588

A technical drawing illustrating the working of a mill, from the book "Das Wasserrad" (the water wheel) by Professor Wilhelm Wölfel. The hydraulic wheel was invented 2,000 years ago. For the first time in history, it was possible to replace the force of man or animal by a natural force. This important discovery is at the origin of an industrial revolution. As the hydraulic wheel was first used in grist mills, all the factories were later also called "mills".

Over the years, the milling technique in the grist mills has been adjusted and perfected. Agostino RAMELLI depicted the mechanism of a grist mill in his book "Le diverse et artificiose machine" in 1588. Later on, RAMELLI's drawing was used as an illustration in many books about the technology and history of mills.

Grain Mills: Mechanics

A Vitruvian Watermill
(Drawing upper right)

The earliest known description of a vertical watermill is found in the writings of Vituvius, a Roman engineer. The watermill shown in this illustration is of the type designed by Vitruvius. In about 2,000 B.C. the Romans made great strides carrying water long distances by aqueducts and master other hydraulic arts. They had adopted the horizontal mill from the Greeks but were dissatisfied with its degree of efficency. The first mention of the vertical mill similar to the ones of early America, and that still exist scattered around the world, is found in his writings of this Roman engineer. Vituvius described the new type of mill in documents made public between the years 20 to 11 B.C.

This type of mill involved a vertical water wheel fastened to a horizontal drive shaft. To carry the power to the millstones, gears were used, changing the direction of the drive 90 degrees. Later developments came with canging the gearing to increase the speed of the spindle on which the runner stone was supported. This type of mill described by Vituvius was the most common for centuries to come and arrived with the first settlers along with the Greek design, to North America.

Drawing lower left: A Baker Mill.
Drawing lower right: A Hand-Operated Grist Mill. A from of a quern.

A Greek or Norse Mill.

A Noria Waterwheel.

Grain Mill Diagram: Oliver Evans Automated Milling System

Grain Mill Diagram: Oliver Evans Automated Milling System
Thomas Ellicott Mill, Occoquan, Virginia

Winter at the Old Grist Mill
Currier & Ives print

The Mill Dam at "Sleepy Hollow."
A Currier & Ives print of 1865-68.
The Upper Mills at Philipsburg Manor

The 1941 Fitz Water Wheel Company reconstruction more closely resembled the (post-colonial Oliver Evans) Beckman's Mill (circa 1783-1910) as seen above, than the eariler 1684 (colonial) Philipse (Flypse) Mill. It was not until the year 1839, did the old Philipse or Beckman Mill repaired, and most modern improved machinery for cleaning grain and bolting flour were added with to the three pairs of millstones. The latest restoration of the mill see: Philipsburg Mill at Philipsburg Manor, Historic Hudson Valley, a.k.a. Sleppy Hollow Restorations, Sleepy Hollow, a.k.a. North Tarrytown, New York.

Logo courtesy of Yates Mill County Park,
Raleigh, North Carolina.

Mills of the Millenium

The word Millenium has the word Mill in it. Windmills were present in Persian times, three Millenia ago. Watermills were present in Roman, Greek and Armenian times, two Millenia ago. Tidal powered mills, boat or floating mills, and windmills in Europe were present one Millenia ago. May the history be written for the next Millenia also with the word "Mill," in it. In T.H. White books: The Sword in the Stone (1938), The Witch in the Wood/The Queen of Air and Darkness (1939), The Ill-Made Knight (1940) & The Candle in the Wind, The Once and Future King (1958), and The Book of Merlyn (1977). Merlyn is a time-traveler, he lives backward, so that he knows the future but cannot remember the past. Melin is the Welsh work for "mill," because a mills is something magical or mysterious. The annual Weilsh Mills Group Journal is called "MELIN ." It is very similar to the word: Merlyn (Myrddin).

Respice, Prospice-Millenium:2000.
Latin meaning 'looking forward, looking back.'

This page is presented by Theodore R. Hazen & Pond Lily Mill Restorations

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Copyright 1999 by T. R. Hazen