Colvin Run Mill Audio Transcript
The grains you eat in your cereals and breads have been a food staple for humans for thousands of years. In the early 1800s, not long after the United States had gained independence, grain mills were a major industry in Fairfax County. Colvin Run Mill was one of those mills, and you can see it in action, because the Fairfax County Park Authority has restored it to working condition. It’s now the only working water-powered gristmill in the county.
The 36-acre park site is just off Route 7, a little bit west of Tyson’s Corner.
When you’re at the mill, don’t just look to see, listen to the sounds of the mill. Outside there’s the sound of the water from the millrace running over the wheel. Inside, there’s the sound of the millstone turning. And inside, the sound of the mill is loud like the sounds that you can feel in your body.
And there’s more there than the mill. At the general store, you can buy the corn meal and whole wheat flour that is ground at the mill. There are also jams and jellies, tea sets and history books in a building that was built around 1900.
History buffs will like the old Miller’s House on the site, which was built around 1809. The barn and the blacksmith shop were built in 1970 during a restoration. Inside the barn is an excellent scale model of the mill constructed by a volunteer, and you can see some of the tools that the farmers and tradespeople of bygone years used. All of this provides peeks into what it was like to be a member of the family that ran the mill 100 years ago.
History becomes touchable and real for students at Colvin Run Mill. School field trips let students tour the mill, shop in the general store, see the blacksmith shop. They can also try to use the 19th century tools and see the machines in action.
There’s also an annual maple syrup boil-down. There are guided tours of the mill and the miller’s house six days a week throughout the year. There’s a nominal charge for the tours, however admission to the park is free except for certain special events.
Some of the Fairfax County parks have distinct traits about them that make them stand apart. At Colvin Run, it’s a sense of community. Colvin Run has a lot of interaction with county residents who care deeply about the site and its history.
Before you visit, check the website for the hours the site is open. Details on the school trips are under the Teachers link. Click on the Scouting link for information about scout programs at the park.
Other programs and events are under the Programs/Events link.
Water isn’t the only resource that powers the mill. A lot of work is handled by volunteers. If you’d like to volunteer at Colvin Run, click on the Volunteer News link.
There’s also a group of citizens who are dedicated to preserving the mill. Click on the Friends Group link to learn about the Friends of Colvin Run Mill.
Colvin Run Mill is a place that proves that not all the big wheels are in Washington. Come on out for a visit to your park.