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OT....Mill Days Tour..


Cast Iron
Aug 31, 2012
Lower Thumb, Michigan
..considering how provocative the last post about mills became,


it may be time to enjoy these mills while they still exist.
Museum status, rather than operational productive businesses, have preserved the ingenuity of the past that brought us where we are today.

Local Historic Mills Host Open House Weekend

The mills of & Southern York County PA & Northern Harford County Md will be celebrating the heritage of milling the weekend of June 11 &12 by hosting their fourth area-wide open house. This is part of a broader celebration sponsored by the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the Society for the Preservation of Old Mills (SPOOM). Participating in the event will be Eden Mill, Muddy Creek Forks Roller Mills,Woolen Mill Wind Engine and Wallace-Cross Mill. Each mill has something unique and different to offer regarding the contributions made by mills to our country and region.
The ample water sources in this region have been used since before the beginning of this country to supply the power needed to drive the machinery used to process grain into flour. The water flow from our local streams was also used to power many of our other early industries. York County alone has more than 270 documented mill sites. Several local towns in this area also used water power to provide their first source of electrical generation for their community. Wind was also used to provide power needed to grind grain, pump water and other farm uses.

The following mills look forward to your visit the weekend of June 11 and 12.

Muddy Creek Forks Roller Mills occupies a mill site that has been active since the 1750s. The current mill, which was built in 1847 and enlarged for roller mill equipment in 1890, is preserved as part of the Ma & Pa Railroad Heritage Village.
In contrast to Wallace-Cross Mill, the mill at Muddy Creek Forks was a merchant mill grinding flour for sale under its own Harvest Queen brand name. A hundred years ago it had a dedicated railroad siding and shipped white flour to commercial bakeries by the boxcar load and stone ground buckwheat flour to general stores by express on passenger trains of the Maryland & Pennsylvania Railroad.
The mill and grain elevator will be open from 11 AM to 5 PM on Saturday, June 11, and from 1 to 5 PM on Sunday, June 12. Displays will include the intact equipment used to grind, sift, and bag buckwheat flour, a stand of roller mills dating to the 1890s, a sieve bolter, middlings purifier, bran duster, and flour dresser. Knowledgeable docents will be on hand to give tours of the mill, explain the milling process, discuss the job of the miller, demonstrate how roller mills revolutionized production of white flour, and explore the relationship between the mill and the railroad. The A. M. Grove Store will also be open and motor car trains will be running excursion rides through the Muddy Creek Valley.
There is something at Muddy Creek Forks to interest every member of the family. For more information visit the website of the Maryland & Pennsylvania Railroad Preservation Society at Ma & Pa Railroad Heritage Village at Muddy Creek Forks. The mill is located at the village of Muddy Creek Forks, 5 miles south of Brogue on Muddy Creek Forks Road.

New Park Wind Engine features two very rare open-geared Aermotor power mills. Both of these wind engines differ from the more common water pumping windmills in that they transmit power to equipment with a rotary power shaft instead of up and down eccentric motion. The 12 ft. diameter windmill producing 2 horsepower is an example typical of power mills used on more prosperous farms at the turn of the 20th century. This windmill would be used on farms to grind feed, cut fire wood, shell corn and other light chores.
A larger 16 ft Aermotor enclosed by an octagonal, 3 story mill building is an extremely rare model built in1888. These large wind engines were built for milling and farm work requiring more power. This wind engine is rated at 5 horse power in a 15 mph wind. The building housing the milling equipment and surrounding the mill tower was inspired by an octagon water pumping windmill in Fairfield Ct called the “Bronson” windmill. The inside workings driven by the windmill are comprised of antique milling and grain handling equipment with belt driven ceiling fans built by Woolen Mill Fan Company. While these mills are not part of local history they are built on historic premises.
Jay and friends would like to invite you to visit these windmills located at 290 Woolen Mill Rd near New Park PA. The mills will be open for tours 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM Saturday June 11, and from 1 to 4 PM Sunday June 12.

Wallace-Cross Mill is a rare example of a small, rural water- powered grain mill with an overshot water wheel. The mill, tucked away in its unspoiled little valley has changed little since its construction in 1826. The mill continued to provide service by grinding grain for the local community until closing in 1979. The restoration focus is the 1950 era; with operating water wheel and milling equipment. This museum includes three floors of interpretive displays and historic artifacts. Tour guides will be available both days to explain the mill history, operate the water-powered equipment, and answer questions. Bring a camera to capture the scenic area and beautifully restored building and equipment. Pack a lunch and plan to enjoy a picnic beside the idyllic stream. This beautifully restored, small local mill will be open 11:00AM to 3:00PM Saturday June 11, and 1:30 to 4:30PM Sunday June 12. Located at 15759 Cross Mill Road, York County, PA more information can found at www.yorkcountypa.gov/parks-recreation/the-parks/wallace-cross-mill-historic-site.

Eden Mill has the distinction of having the intact dam and 3 generations of milling equipment still in place. The original mill on this location was built in the early1800’s to harness the power provided by Deer Creek. In 1917 a corporation known as The Fawn Grove Light and Power Company bought the mill and converted it into a power plant. The power plant continued to provide electricity to the Fawn Grove and New Park area until 1927. The generators used to provide this electricity still remain in the mill. After the power plant was no longer in use the mill was returned to its original purpose of grinding food products and animal feed. The Eden Mill Nature Center and Park located at 1617 Eden Mill Road will be open to the public 12:00 AM to 4:00 PM Saturday June 11 and Sunday June 12. Additional information can be found at Default Parallels Plesk Panel Page.
Submitted by Todd W Eyster
60 Church St
Stewartstown PA 17363
Cell 717 683 4712

Here's a better link to the eden mill site (link listed does not work for me):


Thanks for posting this, Mike.

My family goes back in that area of the world to the early 1700's. Most of the direct line moved out or died since the 1970's, though.
Always had an interest in the Ma & Pa RR. I think my Grandfather rode it sometimes it when he took ships out of Baltimore, or returned home to York.

On that same vein: Hanford Mills, while a museum, is a working museum. The lineshafting and open gearing are in place and in use when the mill is operating. While there are safety barriers for mill visitors, mill staff and volunteers do run the mill as it was when it was in regular business. No guards on the lineshafting or belting or open gearing, and the machinery (woodworking, sawmilling and gristmilling) is original and used as it was 'back in the day'.

The sawmill is mostly driven by the Fitz water wheel, and aside from sawing logs into board lumber for demonstration purposes, does saw logs into rough-cut for local people who need a load of logs sawn.

We have a working steam plant as an alternative power source for the Mill. This plant was designed by me as a re-creation of the ca 1890 steam plant. It is founded on the original mortared bluestone foundations for the boiler and engine, in the original boiler house and engine room. Again, no attempt was made to introduce modern guards or any sort of automatic control to the steam plant. Aside from a few modifications to meet current boiler codes and make the building of the boiler and plant a little easier, it is as it was in 1890. The replacement boiler was built to the original design for a horizontal return tube boiler, only built to current ASME code using submerged arc welding. The boiler is in a brick setting and is hand fired, per the original. Piping over 2" is all welded, but covered with insulation, so the "modern" piping is not apparent.

When the plant first came on line, a NY State boiler inspector visited it. He asked about a "low water cutoff"- an automatic burner shutdown used on heating boilers with electric oil or gas burners. I said we had none. He then asked about an automatic feedwater control to maintain the water level in the boiler. Again, I replied we had none. The inspector started to say it was impossible not to have these devices. I showed him the boiler firebox and opened the firedoors, showing him the grates. I asked him how a low water cutoff, if mounted on that boiler, could instantly stop a solid fuel (cordwood) fire. He said he saw what I meant, but then asked again about the water level control. I replied this was a re-creation of a ca 1890 steam plant and showed him the two independent means of putting water into the boiler- an injector and a Worthington duplex steam pump. I asked him how a control scheme could be implemented to work an injector or feed pump, particularly since the Mill did not have electric power beyond a few Kw of DC for lighting. I knew full well there had been float-chamber devices which had been used to control steam feed pumps, but kept this to myself, waiting to see if the inspector would come up with it on his own. He did not, and asked: "what do you do if the water level gets low ?" My answer was: we have a fireman in the boiler room anytime the plant is in steam, and he keeps an eye on the level glass. He blows the glass down a few times each watch and works the try cocks as well to verify they are clear of mud and reading correctly. If a person is in charge of the boiler, they are trained and know how to work each means of putting water in, and know how to secure the plant in the event both means of putting feed into the boiler fail. A person on watch in the fire room remains on watch until relieved or until the fire is allowed to burn itself mostly out, at which time, the boiler is filled with feed and bottled up."

This left the inspector kind of standing there, and he then asked: "Is anything automatic on this boiler ?" My answer was: "The safety valves and fusible plug".

We finally did tell the inspector that there is a hidden feed makeup tank, and under that tank there is a modern electric turbine pump which is used to initially fill the boiler and can be used a third emergency means of feed. We also told the inspector that, while the original plant's injector took suction directly from a shallow dug well next to the boiler, we use water from a deep drilled well. This water is sent to the feed makeup tank and level maintained by a float switch, so there is always ample boiler feed makeup.

It amounted to giving the modern boiler inspector, who was used to inspecting modern packaged boilers in hospitals and schools and laundries, a course in the old ways. I told him about the old exam questions for stationary and marine engineers and firemen: "What would you do, if, upon entering the fireroom, you discovered the water level in the boiler was below the bottom nut on the gauge cock ?" The answer was: "Never, ever, admit that you would allow a boiler in your charge to get into a low water condition." followed by: "Secure the stop valves, close all dampers, either draw the fires or smother with ashes, sand, earth, or green coal." The inspector asked what the answer would not have been: "Put more water into the boiler", and I told him if the water level were that low, chances are the boiler sheets (plates) were at or near a red heat, so introducing water would shock the plates and possibly cause cracking and catastrophic failure with flash steam being formed, bulging the overheated boiler sheets, and possibly blowing the boiler apart. I told the inspector he was stepping back in time into an old plant where stationary engineers and firemen had to be constantly vigilant and use their minds and senses to run the plant. No automatic controls, no safeguards beyond the safety valves and fusible plug, and no turning your back on it.

Visitors often see me at the steam engine when we are running the steam plant. They ask lots of questions and remark about the open and unguarded machinery. My answer is that people in that era took responsibility for themselves, and knew where their bodies began and ended. When the engine is running and the mill is sawing with steam power, I check big end temperature on the connecting rod on the running engine by letting the big end slap the back of my loose hand, and do the same for the eccentric strap. It is how I was taught to check temperatures on a running steam engine years ago by oldtime marine oilers and engineers.

I go back to my days as a student at Brooklyn Technical HS in the 60's. We worked in machine shops with lineshaft driven machine tools. More modern shops had motor driven machine tools from the late 30's and WWII era. No safety stickers, no automatic shutdowns or lockouts. Our teachers demonstrated how to walk a moving belt on step-cone pulleys using the side or edge of their hand, telling us to be mindful of the lacing hooks. We used sticks or the sides of wrenches to walk the belts, but we worked on old machine tools without any serious mishaps. A few cuts and bruises, but nothing a first aid kit could not handle.

People seem hell bent on making the world we live in safe for anyone and everyone, rather than expecting people to take responsibility for their own actions. My old Gravely tractor is another example of how the world has changed. It was built in 1965. No safety shutdowns or lockouts on it. Lock the clutch lever in the forward direction, and the tractor will keep going til it hits a wall, runs of a cliff, or runs out of gas. We jokingly call the snow blower head for the old Gravely tractors the "dog eater". People were expected to know how to use tools to mount/dismount the implements and how to run machinery responsibly.
Different world nowadays, and it is consistent with the overall dumbing-down of the population. If something does not keep a person safe from themselves or their own stupidity and does not think for them, it is considered unsafe or unsuitable for use by the current population. Regulatory agencies and inspectors have little or no imagination or appreciation of a historic mill such as the gristmill in this thread, and would take the easiest route for them: declare it out of compliance and shut it down, rather than grant some kind of exemption. A sad story but all too typical.
That area had, and still does, have quite a bit of industry.
Thanks for doing your part to carry on the tradition!

Joe, your words are always enlightening and entertaining.
I hope I can live long enough to experience 1/10 of your adventures!

Jay, at the New Park Wind Engine site is a good friend of mine and has done some incredible stuff in bringing the wind, again, under harness.

He just completed a vertical axis mill and hooked an old Northern Electric generator to the flat belt.
He also hosts local artists to show their art in the mill house.

New Park Wind Engines – Just another WordPress site

Lots of fun!

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Thank you for posting this. My Maternal Grandmother's family goes back to the early 1700's A bit NW of there. One of my ancestors built the mill in East Berlin, PA a bit north west of these mills. I plan on visiting the this afternoon.
A few years back I worked with a group restoring an old grist mill in Georgetown OH, strangely enough owned by the Klosterman family---one of the biggest suppliers of bread in this area. Most of my work there was floor restoration, and consisted of banging hundreds of 3" square nails every day through ship lapped poplar (after we planed and milled it).

The building is far from a working mill, and is used as storage for Kenny Klosterman's extensive magic collection--I helped carry various items made & used by Harry Houdini, among others.

Some links. There is more out there if you can google.

The mill http://www.maysville-online.com/ent...cle_2a67faf7-15c6-55f2-a6e4-78677967515a.html

A video of the building of 'one of the largest wooden waterwheels in the USA'. I wasn't there for the installation of it. The Creation of One of the Largest Wooden Waterwheels in the USA - YouTube

An interview with Klosterman about his magic collection. He has written books on the subject. Klosterman's collection of magic is second to none

An image of the waterwheel. I believe this was made from cypress trucked from Louisiana.