Does anyone know any history of Virginia mills, mines, unions, or factories?

any websites that would help with research would be great

1 Answer

  • 1 decade ago
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    The image of the Old Mill is the symbol of Waterford today-a community landmark in stature and history. It illustrates the reason for the existence of the village at this location and the important relationship of Waterford to the surrounding farmland.

    In 1733, Amos Janney, a Quaker from Bucks County, Pennsylvania, purchased 400 acres along Catoctin Creek in the fertile Loudoun Valley. He constructed a log mill on the creek not far from the site of the present mill. Janney was soon joined by others drawn to the rich farmland along the banks of Catoctin Creek. From this site, a little settlement grew rapidly until the mill was the hub of a thriving agricultural community. Known as Janney's Mill until the 1780s, this early commercial center became what we know today as the village of Waterford.

    Old Mill in Waterford

    By 1762, the growing population of grain farmers had necessitated the building of a larger grist mill on the site of the present mill. An adjacent saw mill provided lumber to build houses and barns, and roads were constructed to facilitate travel to and from Janney's Mill. Reflecting the fertility of the surrounding farmland, the mill was again rebuilt and enlarged in the 1820s. This is the structure we know today. More on Waterford's early development at the mill »

    Two additional mills operated in the village. Schooley Mill, near the corner of Factory and Second Streets, primarily a saw mill, also ground corn, limestone, and clover. Another, near the corner of Clarke's Gap Road and Factory Street, functioned as a cloth manufactory, or fulling mill*.

    By 1835, the settlement had grown into a village serving as a commercial hub to the surrounding farms. With the nearby Chesapeake and Ohio Canal in operation in the 1850s, Waterford's mills were providing products for an even wider market. Barrels of flour were hauled to Point of Rocks, Maryland, ten miles north of Waterford, where they were loaded onto C&O Canal barges or the Baltimore and Ohio railroad to be taken to the lucrative markets of Washington, DC, Alexandria, and Winchester.

    What is a mill?

    A mill is a building housing a set of machinery that processes raw material into finished products. Waterford's mills produced flour from grain; building lumber from logs, fabric from cotton and wool fibers, and lime for fertilizer and mortar from limestone.

    How is a mill powered?

    Janney's original log mill was powered directly from the flow of Catoctin Creek. By the early 19th century, millers were harnessing waterpower through manmade channels or races. When Mahlon Janney built his stone and wood mill at the location of the present Old Mill, he dammed the Catoctin and diverted water from just behind the dam through a mile-long headrace to direct water over the wheel in the volume and speed required to power the mill. The design and construction of this race were an engineering feat-beginning with a dam to hold a reserve of water from Catoctin Creek, a chute to allow the race to pass over another stream without emptying into it, several overflow gates to prevent flooding during high-water, and finally a sluice gate to control the flow of the water from the headrace over the millwheel. A manmade tail race carries water away from the mill. Schooley Mill and the fulling mill were powered by a second race, fed by Ball's Run.

    How does a gristmill Work?

    Water running over a water wheel powers machinery that processes grain into a final product. Initially, the wheat or other grain is screened and cleaned to exclude foreign seed and other impurities. Next, the grain is weighed. During the milling, or grinding, phase, the wheat is reduced to flour. Initially, the Old Mill used the movement of grooved burr stones to grind kernels of wheat. This grinding process removes the outer husk from the grain then powders it into flour. In 1885, roller machinery was installed in the Old Mill. The roller process uses a gradual reduction method in which each step in grinding is performed between steel cylinders, first grooved ones, then in the final stages, smooth surfaced rollers, working at differential speeds. Once the grain is processed into flour, it is bolted, or sieved,·to remove any bran particles. The final product is then packaged or bagged and sent to market.

    Following the Civil War, which devastated Waterford's economy, the mills continued to operate. The Washington and Old Dominion Railroad was extended from Leesburg west in 1870, bypassing Waterford and depriving it of its once dominant trading position. The village never returned to its former commercial success because area farmers and village residents could now import machine-made goods. However, enterprises supporting agricultural needs-blacksmiths, wagon builders, harness makers-remained working in the village until the early 1900s. Waterford's mills continued to operate and export grain to markets made accessible by the railroad.

    The Old Mill

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