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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Vails Gate in Orange County, New York — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

The Ellison Gristmill

 
 
The Ellison Gristmill Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, June 7, 2008
1. The Ellison Gristmill Marker
Inscription. A gristmill owned by Thomas Ellison, and later by his son John, was in operation at this location by 1741. Water from an upstream millpond was carried here through an underground tunnel called a raceway. To the left is the foundation which supported the wooden mill. The wheel-pit walls, which held a waterwheel 18-feet high, can be seen below. The large glacial boulders to the right protected the mill structure from damage by ice.
The mill itself was probably three stories high, containing two sets of millstones for grinding grains, such as wheat and corn, into flour or meal. Power to turn the stones was transmitted from the waterwheel through shafts and gears within the mill.
A miller and one or more assistants regulated the entire process. The rumble of the mill and the sound of cascading water filled the Silver Stream gorge whenever the mill was in operation.
 
Erected by Knox’s Headquarters State Historic Site.
 
Location. 41° 27.259′ N, 74° 3.009′ W. Marker is in Vails Gate, New York, in Orange County. Marker can be reached from Forge Hill Road, on the right when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is located on a trail in Knox’s Headquarters State Historic Site. Marker is in this post office area: Vails Gate NY 12584, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers.
Marker on Knox’s Headquarters Trail image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, June 7, 2008
2. Marker on Knox’s Headquarters Trail
The marker is on a trail that begins at the Ellison House in Knox’s Headquarters State Historic Site.
At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. The King’s Highway (within shouting distance of this marker); Knox Headquarters (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Vails Gate, N.Y. (approx. 0.2 miles away); Edmonston House (approx. 0.6 miles away); The Forge (approx. 0.7 miles away); Brewster Forge Site (approx. 0.7 miles away); Camps of 1782-83 (approx. 1.2 miles away); Freedom Road (approx. 1.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Vails Gate.
 
More about this marker. The marker contains two pictures of the gristmill with the caption "Although no original illustration of the Ellison gristmill is known to exist, water from the raceway may have reached the wheel via a flume in this manner. An artist’s conception from an original black and white drawing by Edward Clancy." A caption below the second picture is "The waterwheel and gearing of the Ellison gristmill probably fit into the stone ruins below in this manner. An artists conception based on practices followed in other 18th-century gristmills, from an original black and white drawing by Edward Clancy."

The upper right of the marker features a map of the area, with the caption "The topography bordering the Silver Stream was ideal for the Ellison gristmill and its raceway from an upstream millpond.
Foundation of Ellison Gristmill image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, June 7, 2008
3. Foundation of Ellison Gristmill
The stones in the photo were part of the foundation of a three-story gristmill owned by the Ellison family.
The Ellison House overlooked the complex.
Detail from a map of Knox’s Headquarters State Historic Site, prepared by Korski Engineers, P.C., Syracuse, N.Y., 1975."
 
Categories. Colonial EraNotable Places
 
Ruins Wheel-pit walls image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, June 7, 2008
4. Ruins Wheel-pit walls
These walls originally supported the 18-feet high waterwheel of the Ellison Gristmill.
Ruins of Raceway image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, June 7, 2008
5. Ruins of Raceway
The raceway was an underground tunnel that transported water from an upstream millpond to the waterwheel of the Ellison gristmill. The remains of it are visible in this photo.
Detail of Area Map from Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, June 7, 2008
6. Detail of Area Map from Marker
This map from the marker indicates the location of the marker, the ruins of the wall-pit and the Ellison House.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on June 8, 2008, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 847 times since then and 36 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on June 8, 2008, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.
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