HIDDEN GEM: Ever wonder how those old mills along the streams actually worked?

Last weekend, Danielle and Jonathan spent the day at the Bowmansville Roller Mill’s open house – a Lancaster County hidden gem of preservation that sits just a stone’s throw (okay, a hearty stone’s throw) from the Berk’s County line.

Put together by The Historic Preservation Trust of Lancaster County, the open house occurs four times a year and shows both the gristmill and the sawmill in full operation, as well as offers expert tradespeople showing and explaining how the mill operated and the preservation efforts that went into a mill.

The Bowmansville Roller Mill operated from the mid-1700’s to the mid-1900’s – switching hands only once during that time when Henry Von Neida bought it from the Good family in the mid-1800’s.   After a fire shortly after he bought the mill, Von Neida tore down the original mill and rebuilt the present stone millhouse.  He also added the sawmill structure (the one that looks like a covered bridge) in 1860.

To read The Historic Preservation Trust’s flyer about the Bowmansville Roller Mill, click here.

To learn more about the Bowmansville Roller Mill, you can visit the Trust’s website, or read Jim Miller’s excellent write-up on his historic mill website.  To see a great animated illustration of how exactly gristmills work, as well as blueprints of typical gristmill designs, visit the Old Sturbridge Village’s website on gristmills.  While you’re there, poke around a bit and explore all the fabulous information they offer – and don’t forget to stop at their page on water power.  It even includes a description and illustratio of the four different types of waterwheels.   In the video below that we put together from the open house, you’ll learn which type of waterwheel the Bowmansville Mill uses, so watch it first and then head over to read more about how that type of waterwheel works.