What's a Mill?
Simply put, a mill is a structure that uses water to power a mechanical process. Along the Sawkill Creek, as we will see in the maps of Annandale on the next page, three types of mills existed: Saw Mills cut logs into lumber. Grist Mills ground grain into flour with the aid of millstones, large grooved stones. Fulling Mills assisted in the process of fulling wool (cleansing, shrinking, and thickening the cloth) by using wooden hammers to beat the cloth.
This diagram shows a widely-used and highly efficient type of water wheel, the overshot water wheel. A stream of water is channeled above the wheel, where it is dropped. The momentum of the stream of water, coupled with the force of gravity, assists in turning the wheel.
These weathered millstones, over a century old, are remnants of a gristmill that stood on the upper banks of the Sawkill, west of Annandale Triangle. Millstones had grooves that served as cutting edges; the grooves also acted as channels that allowed the ground product to exit the stone.