Colesville in Montgomery County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Built by 1723, the grist mill that Richard Snowden operated here is considered the earliest commercial enterprise in Montgomery County. Local resident patronized his "custom" mill where neighbors paid a "toll" to have flour produced, often made from the very grain farmers cultivated. Flour was such a critical component of the colonial diet, that a trip to the mill was a necessity. While waiting for their grain to be processed, the citizens who had traveled long distances came into town to shop and socialize.
Miller at Work
The friendly face that met you at the basement door of the mill was the miller, the person who owned the business and maintained the machinery. Usually a man, he supervised both apprentices and journeymen who learned the trade of milling from the master.
Dressing the Millstone
Courtesy: AAubreyBodine.com Made of various stones, including quartz, buhrstone, limestone, and sandstone, millstones or burrs usually worked in a pair known as a run. The run consisted of a bedstone
A Auxiliary take-off wheels
B After a customer dropped off the unprocessed grain and the miller took his portion for payment, one of the laborers performed a "sack and back" job (the gruesome task of carrying the bags up and down the ladder-like stairs to the top floor) unless the mill had a sack hoist. The grain was dumped to the hopper to begin being processed into flour.
C The grain was then funneled into the chute.
D Crane with iron tongs (to lift runner stone for dressing)
E After the chute, the grain fell into a wood grain hopper (48" x 48") that was offset from the eye of the runner stone.
F The grain fell onto a pair of monolithic millstones (54" diameter) and was ground into a fine powder.
G Wood stone casing (62" outside diameter) for gathering ground meal
H The spout from the stone casing transferred the flour to the sifter.
I The lantern pinion gear (wallower) transmitted power to the sifter.
K The bridgetree and brayer adjusted the distance between the runner and bed stones.
L The flour finally ended its journey at the sifter and meal bin. It was cooled on the floor to prevent it from going rancid and was then collected, bagged, and stored in storage bins under the eaves in the attic.
M Iron gudgeon set into wood axle (to support the water wheel shaft)
N Water wheel and axle gear
O Auxiliary take-off wheel to pulleys above.
Background image: Piney Branch Water Mill, Fairfax, VA (perhaps similar to the mill used by Richard Snowden)
Courtesy: Library of Congress
Erected by Montgomery Parks.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Agriculture • Colonial Era • Industry & Commerce.
Location. 39° 4.279′ N, 76° 58.546′ W. Marker is in Colesville, Maryland, in Montgomery County. Marker is on Paint Branch Trail east of Collingwood Terrace, on the left when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 13104 Mica Court, 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. Edmonston's Mill (approx. 0.3 miles away); Fawcett's Mill (approx. 0.4 miles away); Valley Mill (approx. 0.4 miles away); a different marker also named Valley Mill (approx. 0.4 miles away); Smithville Colored School (approx. 1.1 miles away); Rachel Carson House (approx. 2.2 miles away); The Northwest Branch (approx. 2.7 miles away); Mica Mine Ruins (approx. 2.8 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Colesville.
More about this marker. Nearest road access to Paint Branch trail is Tamarack Park, near the intersection of Collingwood Terrace and Lemontree Lane. Enter the trail at the park entrance and turn right at the fork. The marker will be on the left.
Credits. This page was last revised on July 6, 2020. It was originally submitted on April 1, 2018, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 114 times since then and 13 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on April 1, 2018, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.