Thursday, February 2, 2012

French Mill

The French Mill was the only operable mill we visited on this trip, and it wasn't always. We saw photos of its condition before the current owner began restoration more than 20 years ago. Also dating from the 1790s, the mill looked like it had seen one too many floods.

While it originally had mill stones, the mill had been converted to modern roller mills driven by a system of belts and pulleys.

The old wheat scourer remained, although I believe the mill mostly grinds corn today.

This is a section of a belt that originally carried grain to the third floor to be gravity-fed into the mills.

The owner completely rebuilt this large flywheel that delivers power from the water wheel outside to the belt and pulley system inside. A retired appliance repairman, he is a natural-born engineer and mechanic.

Power begins at the mill dam immediately upstream from this spectacular cascade that flows in front of the small cabin the owner built to live in.

The mill race runs behind the cabin and the mill, delivering water to the top of the overshot wheel. When the mill isn't running, it's dumped off the side of the wheel.

A gate at the head of the wheel allows water to flow over the wheel when it's opened. The owner opened the gate just enough to let a little water through so we could see everything inside turn, but not enough to reach the speeds necessary to grind grains.

Even at this slow speed, the mill made quite a racket. I hope to go back sometime when he's grinding. Maybe the sun will come out next time.

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