Saturday, December 27, 2008

Milling About

Scott and I were working on a different project today in a different county. Searching through a wooded area near where we were shovel testing, we found a breached earthen embankment that may well be part of a mill dam. These unprepossessing features can be found all over the landscape wherever there are streams with sufficient flow and volume to support one or more mills.

There should be a similar feature north of Port Tobacco where there was at least one mill seat. This kind of mill--water-powered--would have been very different from the steam-powered mill on "the Mill Lot" between the courthouse and Port Tobacco Creek. That mill probably took water from the creek for steam production. Steam power made mills independent of undependable water supplies (particularly during summer droughts and winter freezes) and it allowed millers to operate more efficiently the rolling mills that replaced traditional mill stones and the high-speed circular saws that replaced old-fashioned, slow, up-and-down saws.

I'm not sure what kinds of archaeological features we might find behind the courthouse that would survive from the milling operation (I've only worked on water-powered mills), but a furnace and boiler are likely candidates and probably easily identified.


No comments: