Silver Spring in Montgomery County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
In searching for the remains of a mill, an archaeologist is forced to ask the same questions a miller pondered years ago — where should the mill be built and what should this building look like.
Of prime importance to the miller was the selection of the best location, often dictated by the need for a steady, reliable supply of fast-flowing water — the very source of power for a grist mill. Equally critical was choosing a well-forested area. Not only did the leaves provide a natural canopy to avert water evaporation, the trees and their roots also prevented both flash floods after heavy rain storms and dry streams during periods of drought.
Following this formula, Ninian Edmonston — a planter and surveyor — built his small mill in the mid-1760s. The facility was described in 1773 as "A Single geer'd breast mill that goes by water, hath a bolting cloth, and about 80 or 90 acres of land." Perhaps after Peter Kemp purchased this facility in 1790, he renovated the aging building with new automatic machinery. This property, which became known as "Kemp Mill," was
A The mill was constructed from surrounding natural resources from the land owned by the miller. A millwright (a craftsman and architect) and neighbors helped with the construction. Generally, the structures were anywhere from two to three stories high to accommodate all the necessary machinery and the water wheel.
B Depending on the type of waterwheel, a deep millpond had to be built upstream from the milling facility.
C The sluice carried water from the pond to the waterwheel. It was equipped with a gate to control the speed of the water.
D The water then moved to the wheel pit where it rotated the waterwheel and created energy for the mill.
E After the water exited the waterwheel, it moved into the raceway and was carried back to the stream from which it came.
F In order for this system to function, a dam had to be built to hold water in the pond. When the pond became too full, excess water would flow over the spillway (G) into the overflow channel (H).
Such an industrial complex left a mark on the landscape...stay on the trail and you will see it for yourself!
Erected by Montgomery Parks.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Colonial Era • Industry & Commerce.
Location. 39° 4.044′ N, 76° 58.643′ W. Marker is in Silver Spring, Maryland, in Montgomery County. Marker is on Paint Branch Trail north of East Randolph Road, on the right when traveling north. North of Valley Mill Special Park. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 12934 Tourmaline Terrace, Silver Spring MD 20904, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 3 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Valley Mill (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); a different marker also named Valley Mill (about 600 feet away); Snowden's Mill (approx. 0.3 miles away); Fawcett's Mill (approx. 0.6 miles away); Smithville Colored School (approx. 1.1 miles away); Rachel Carson House (approx. 1.9 miles away); The Northwest Branch (approx. 2.6 miles away); Mica Mine Ruins (approx. 2.6 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Silver Spring.
Credits. This page was last revised on March 20, 2019. It was originally submitted on March 24, 2018, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 97 times since then and 8 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on March 24, 2018, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.