Lou's Place in Cyberspace
Across the road from the Hotel built in 1901 were two sawmills and a grist mill. They may have been there since before Jonas Snyder purchased the land in 1858.
In an early history of this area from when this area was called “New Mechanicsville” it is stated:
“The first settlement at this place was made by Beddy & Strow who erected a saw-mill and engaged in lumbering. Henry Everett was proprietor of the first hotel, which is now owned and kept by James Snyder” This was a typing error, and should have read “kept by Jonas Snyder.” It also states that Henry Everitt was proprietor "of the first hotel".
Jonas Snyder, besides being a farmer, wheel-right, Blacksmith, and Miller also sold farming and roofing supplies and ran the Hotel on the property he purchased in 1859. The mills as noted above may have existed or he built them himself.
To power any type of mill in those days, water power was required, and this meant creating a Mill Pond to supply the water power. This land contained an active stream with a good flow of water. A mill pond had to first be constructed and the water from the stream re-directed to fill the pond.
Creating this holding or mill pond required a great deal of work for the land at the north end of the pond had to be elevated from the level of the creek bed to the height required to provide a “Fall” to drive a waterwheel or water turbine.
The water from the pond would be directed to the mills via a channel or “Head Race”
One of the sawmills, the “Rough Mill” was located directly above the running stream, straddling the creek. A vertical saw blade that cut the rough logs or timbers into smaller, straight cut planks. These planks were then moved to the “Finish” sawmill to be finished into planks and boards used for construction.
Also there was a Grist Mill for grinding corn and wheat into flour for food or animal feed. The water from the Mill Pond was used to power the water turbine in the Grist Mill and power from this turbine was sent via drive shafts to both the "Rough" and "Finish" sawmills. Later a drive shaft was extended to the Hotel from the Gristmill to drive a "Dynamo" or Direct Current generator in the Hotel's basement to provide power for lighting. This shaft was also extended to a barn on the east side of the Hotel to provide power for the lifting hoist. From the size of this mill it likely had one set of “Stones” since it is a small building and part of the basement was used as a Blacksmith shop.
This pond still exists bordering Rt. 534 opposite the Hotel on the west side. The mills are gone and only the Carpentry Shop still exists at this location. The mills were demolished during the 1950’s.
When the Snyder property was sold to Paul Held in August of 1950, the Grist Mill and Finish Mill which also housed a Blacksmith section still existed but had not been used for many years.
Photo of some Snyder family members at the “Rough” sawmill. A young Charles Snyder is in center of photo, his brother John Snyder may be person on right. C -1885
Arrangement of the Mills on the Hotel property. Mill Pond not visible in this view.
Photo C-1930. A group of guests, staying at the Hotel, on an outing. In background is the Gristmill and Finish Sawmill.
Post card C-1930 showing the Gristmill and stacks of rough and cut lumber.
Photo C-1945. Gristmill and Finish Sawmill in winter.
The “Rough” Sawmill once straddled this stream in approximately this location. A drive shaft from the Grist Mill turbine provided the power for the sawmill, with the Mill pond providing the water power for the turbine. The Pond was at a higher level that the Gristmill and this height difference or “Fall” provided the power source. The “Tail Race” is the channel where water exited the Gristmill after providing power to the turbine. Tail race water would have flowed back into this stream beyond this point to the left.
The Mill Pond as seen in this view looking north, next to Rte. 534 had to be constructed and the water source diverted to fill this pond
This view is similar to above. In the background is the Pavilion within “Snyder’s Grove”. Courtesy-Fran Mabus Collection. C-1930
The ground level had to be heightened about six to eight feet. This photo shows the stones and fill at the north end of the pond used to create the required pond height.
This view looking southwest shows the north end of the pond embankment wall. This wall, about eight to ten feet thick creates the pond's north wall. The stream which feeds this pond and flows towards the “Rough Sawmill” is to the right of this photo. From the stream level to the top of this wall is about eight feet.
This view shows the stream above the pond being diverted, under the road to the Mill Pond on the opposite side of the road.
This photo shows the same approximate location, but a larger holding pond on the north side of the road fed by the stream. This view shows the wooden sluice that was opened to allow water to flow into the Mill pond beyond on the other side of the dirt road that is now Rte. 534.
North end of the Pond. Water entering from the conduit under the road enters at the area shown foreground left. Due to a breech on the west wall, the pond level is lower than normal.
Part of the Mill building was used as a Blacksmith. From the windows on the right in this photo, it would appear this is the basement floor of the Mill building on the west side. The windows would be facing west, this view towards front.
This is another view of the Blacksmith section. Center right in this photo is the water turbine housing area.
This Millstone, an inverted “Upper” or “Runner” made of French Burl, was used in the Grist Mill.
This stone used what is known as a “Balanced Rind”, located in the center of the upper stone. This upper or top stone rotated on a shaft spindle. The weight of the stone was balanced on the shaft end with this type Rind. This stone rotating above a stationary stone is what ground the grain.
Last photo of Gristmill. C-1953.