Turning Back Time

January 29th, 2019

Maintenance Assistant Gabe Christy making tools for the Millwright’s Shop

The 1704 Newlin Grist Mill has always been a place to learn about the past, but now it will also be a place that recreates the past. Fall of 2018 brought the opening of a project that has been in the making for years. In order to replace the mill’s 16-foot waterwheel – the linchpin of the operation – staff and volunteers will construct one in a “new” 18th-century millwright’s shop. Well, new to the 21st century anyway. Rather than using modern tools to create a waterwheel that has the look of being authentic, this waterwheel will actually be authentic. 

Very few details are known about 18th-century waterwheel construction since members of the trade guilds fiercely protected their trade secrets. Therefore, this project will not only be one of restoration, but one of education as well. Careful research and documentation will be collected in order to add to the small body of existing knowledge on early colonial mills and the tools and techniques used to create them.

The millwright shop will be open to the public Fridays through Sundays. Guests can visit in person and see our staff and volunteers at work as they prepare to build our new waterwheel for the Mill.  Once the waterwheel is constructed and installed, the shop will be used to complete other ongoing historically accurate restoration and maintenance projects.