If you have found your way to this page, you probably already know a lot about mills. Right? Or, maybe not! So on this page we are going to try to explain what this particular mill at Double Mills is all about, and how it is different from some mills and like other mills – what it can do and what it can no longer do – why it was once so important and yet is no longer so vital. And many more things!!
No, we won’t be able to do all that on one page in just a few paragraphs.
So this page will change every few weeks or so. And we hope you will join in with comments, corrections [oops!!], questions, pictures, … whatever strikes your fancy! The more the better!!
See the E-mail addresses at the bottom to learn how to contribute!
For right now, here are some “bits and bobs” to get us started!
First , this mill is a GRIST MILL ! It ground grain into flour or animal feed. You have no doubt heard that before, but there are many kinds of mills and probably even more nuances and double-meanings for the word “mill”. Try it – how many kinds of mills can you think of? For starters – how about a sorghum mill? Or a jack-leg saw mill? Or a cotton mill? Even a pepper mill !! Can you describe each of these – what they produce? How they work? Send us your list of mills. For the longest list with the best (brief) descriptions , we’ll send you a surprise gift!!
Second, this mill was powered by water! Yes, there are other ways to provide power to a mill. But you knew that . Think of Wind Mills, or Animal Powered Mills . And not all water-powered mills were the same either! The traditional image that comes to mind for most people is a building in the mountains with a large wheel attached and water falling down the mountain onto the wheel. On the Eastern Shore, though, there are no mountains!!
How did this mill convert water to power? For the first almost-two centuries they did use a water wheel, but an UNDERSHOT wheel, with the water rushing under the wheel rather than falling down on top. Then in the early 1900s, a TURBINE was installed in the pit in the race way (yes, we will explain more about these terms later) and this remained until the mill stopped operating.
According to Harold Bennett, who operated the mill from 1934 to 1944, it took only 2 inches of water to turn the 5oo pound millstones !
Third, how old is this mill? It is believed – though certain proof remains very elusive – that the first grist mill on Barren Creek was built around 1670. But Barren Creek is a very long meandering creek originating in mid-Sussex County, Delaware and making its way to empty into the Nanticoke River, miles away. So, which mill on the Creek was the one built in the latter 17th century? Honestly, we aren’t certain. Certainly it is true that the mill on the site of this present “Double Mills” mill operated until 1979 when a particularly bad “nor’easter” storm tore out the earthen dam and did such damage to the building and mill apparatus that it was not restored.
Keep watching this page for more bits of assorted facts, fictions, and maybes! And please send in your own contributions!!
Add your ideas or thoughts to this page by emailing us your text and /or pictures about Double Mills grist mill. Send to either firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.