[ 10017 Colvin Run Road ] [ Great Falls, Virginia 22066 ] [ 703-759-2771 ]
The path from the parking lot leads you across the porch of the General Store. This late 19th century building once stood across Colvin Run Road from the mill. Storekeeper Mark Cockrill stocked general merchandise for the farming community of Colvin Run and for patrons of the mill.
Today, examples of merchandise that would have been sold during the years the store operated, from the 1890s to the 1940s, are displayed on the top shelves and hung from the ceiling. The general store continues as a mercantile establishment, selling grain ground at the mill, "penny" candy and sundries.
Across from the general store is the
barn and blacksmith shop built in 1970 during the restoration of the
mill. Inside the barn is a scale model of Colvin Run Mill, faithfully
reproduced to 1/24 scale by a dedicated volunteer. Barn exhibits include
the tools of farmers and tradespeople who lived in the area at the turn
of the century. Children especially love the hands-on history trunk with
reproductions of items used at home, school and work.
Down the gravel path is the c. 1809 miller's house, home to the families who ran the mill. In 1883, Addison Millard moved his family here when he bought the old mill. Addison, his wife Emma, and some of their 20 children lived here. When Addison died, the family stayed and operated the mill until 1934. Take a few minutes to sit and enjoy the gardens on the east side of the house.
Continue down the path to the mill and look at the remains of the great
white oak tree which blew down in a summer storm a few years ago. White
oak was used for the framework of the mill, the axles, and the gear
As you walk down to the mill, you are paralleling the route of the mill race which brings the water to the mill. Standing on the bridge, you can see the path of the water as it comes from the upper side of the flume and over the water wheel. The water comes from Colvin Run on the other side of Route 7 and flows through a tunnel beneath the road.
Notice the burr stones lining the hillside across the path from the mill. These premium grinding stones were imported from France and were a major investment for the miller. A good set of burr stones would last up to 100 years, sometimes outlasting the mill. These stones came from various sites.
The walls of the c. 1811 mill are a combination of original and
replacement brick. When the Park Authority acquired the mill, the wall on
the waterwheel side was wood. Archeological investigation found that the
original wall - made of brick - had collapsed. So a new brick wall was
built to replicate the original wall. The putlog holes in the walls
served as scaffolding supports during the construction of the old mill
and were recreated in the new wall as they occur in the other walls.
The overshot waterwheel was built of oak in 1970. It reproduces as faithfully as possible the original waterwheel that powered the machinery in the c. 1811 mill. The axle, made from a single white oak log, transmits power from the turning waterwheel into the mill. The greater face gear attached to the axle in the mill basement turns the wood gears that operate three sets of grinding stones, grain elevators and sifting machinery.
On the first and third Sundays, spring through fall, you can watch the miller grind wheat into flour or corn into meal. Call ahead to confirm that conditions permit grinding.
To conclude your walking tour of the site, stroll by the mill pond, home to ducks, geese and the occasional heron. At the farthest end of the pond, the mill race flows through a tunnel under Colvin Run Road and returns to Difficult Run.