On Bridge Day this year (15 October) we drove down to the New River Gorge to see some of the events at the New River Bridge. We had decided that since we were so close, after tiring of the Bridge we should visit the Glade Creek Grist Mill at Babcock State Park before going home.
The mill is a well-known target of photographs, popular with photographers of all kinds and skills, especially when the leaves are turning in the Fall. It features in many pictures, most much better than mine, scattered about the Web, but one does tend to aim the camera (or telephone, as the case may be) anyway. After staring at the mill, wandering down along the creek, and taking a few pictures, I spent a bit of time inside the mill, listening to the docent weaving tales about the mill, the grain they mill (it’s still a working — part-time — grist mill), the recent flood that damaged the sluice but spared the mill itself, and himself. And over the course of this discourse I learned that this mill is not original to this place.
There was a mill on Glade Creek, near this location, long ago. It was turbine powered, driven by water running through the mill’s foundation. But that mill is long gone. The current mill is new, built in 1976 from parts of three 19th Century mills from around the state. According to the Park’s web site, most of it came from the Stoney Creek Grist Mill near Campbelltown in Pocahontas County, dismantled and rebuilt on this site. The overshot water wheel came from the Spring Run Grist Mill near Petersburg in Grant County, which had burned to the ground. Other parts came from the Onego Grist Mill near Seneca Rocks in Pendleton County. While the mill that originally stood on Glade Creek was run by a turbine powered by water running under the mill, the overshot water wheel and the sluice that provides its water flow make a much more pleasing picture. As the docent said, you can’t see a turbine under an old mill. If you can’t see the wheel, you can’t tell it’s a mill, and it might as well just be some old building standing next to the creek.
Then I wandered out again, and noticed this wheel hub leaning against some rocks behind the mill. It looks like it’s part of another water wheel. I don’t know why it’s there, but it made me think of those extra screws and parts you find after you’ve re-assembled your bicycle. Or am I the only person that happens to.