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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Ann Arbor Township in Washtenaw County, Michigan — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
 

The Power of Fleming Creek

 
 
The Power of Fleming Creek Marker image. Click for full size.
By Joel Seewald, April 18, 2017
1. The Power of Fleming Creek Marker
Inscription.
What is Hydropower?
Hydropower uses the energy of falling water to do work, either to move machinery or generate electricity. Originally, a metal turbine underneath the gristmill harnessed the power of Fleming Creek. Water from the old millpond flowed through an underground channel into the mill, spinning the turbine blades. A main driveshaft transferred power from the turbine to a series of gears, shafts, pulleys and belts that operated the equipment in both mills. A simple turbine is illustrated here. In 1978, a flood destroyed the dam and millpond. Today, the mill still grinds corn thanks to the installation of an electric motor in 1985.

Where did the Water Go?
Follow the red an blue arrows to learn how the water flowed through the mill and then back to Fleming Creek...

1 Water from the millpond flowed into an underground channel called the "headrace"
A dam just upstream of the Geddes Road bridge, created a millpond which raised the water level by several feet. Raising the water level is important. The farther water has to fall before hitting the turbine, the more energy it will have and the more power it can generate. Water from the millpond flowed into the headrace channel and down to the turbine, located 20 feet below the lower floor of
Upper Left Image image. Click for full size.
By Joel Seewald, April 18, 2017
2. Upper Left Image
the mill.

2 Flowing water spun the turbine blades and generated power
Water flowing downhill through the headrace picked up enough speed to spin the turbine blades. The main driveshaft connected to a large gear called a bull gear, which was connected to more gears that operated the millstones, sifters, grist elevators, grain cleaners, and so on, even a lathe!

3 Water flowed into the "tailrace"
After the water turned the turbine blades, it flowed through the hollow center of the turbine and into another underground channel called the tailrace. At this point, the water has given up most of its energy.

4 Water in the tailrace flowed back into Fleming Creek

Question: Where does the water flow faster, in the headrace or the tailrace?

The King of Turbines
In 1924, Geddes Road was raised, widened and paved. At the same time, the Parkers raised the stone foundations of the mill buildings, replacing the original wooden-paddled tubwheel with a smaller, more efficient metal turbine.

The 24" Double Perfection Water-Wheel has two wheels stacked one on top of the other. A gate was used to control the flow of water to the turbine. With the gate half opened, one wheel received 700 cubic feet per minute (cfm) of water and generated approximately
Upper Center Image image. Click for full size.
By Joel Seewald, April 18, 2017
3. Upper Center Image
George Parker surveys Geddes Road construction.
Photo courtesy of Bentley Historical Library
15 horsepower. At full gate, both wheels used double the water and gave double the power!

Question: What are some other benefits of having TWO water wheels in the turbine instead of just one?

Fun Facts about Hydropower
ANSWERS: 1) The water flows faster in the HEADRACE; 2) When water levels are low, the turbine could still operate with only one wheel. Also, if a mill owner knew he was going to add more machinery later on, he could run the double wheel turbine at a lower horsepower until he needed full power.

Visit Sharon Mills County Park, in Sharon Township, to see another example of a hydropowered mill!
 
Erected by Parker Mill County Park, Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission.
 
Location. 42° 16.439′ N, 83° 40.04′ W. Marker is in Ann Arbor Township, Michigan, in Washtenaw County. Marker can be reached from Geddes Road 0.2 miles east of North Dixboro Road, on the right when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is about 200 feet down the path from the parking lot — behind the mills where the path meets the Gallup Park Pathway. Marker is at or near this postal address: 4650 Geddes Road, Ann Arbor MI 48105, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Frontier Cozy (within shouting distance of this marker); Log Cabin (within shouting distance of this marker); The Gristmill (within
Lower Left Image image. Click for full size.
By Joel Seewald, April 18, 2017
5. Lower Left Image
shouting distance of this marker); Cider Mill (within shouting distance of this marker); Grist Mill (within shouting distance of this marker); The Parker Family & Mill (within shouting distance of this marker); Welcome to the Parker Family Mills! (within shouting distance of this marker); Hoyt Garrod Post and Family History (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Ann Arbor Township.
 
Categories. Industry & Commerce
 
Lower Right Image image. Click for full size.
By Joel Seewald, April 18, 2017
6. Lower Right Image
The old millpond dam, looking north under the former Geddes Road bridge, 1977.
The Power of Fleming Creek Marker image. Click for full size.
By Joel Seewald, April 18, 2017
7. The Power of Fleming Creek Marker
View looking north with Fleming Creek and the Geddes Road bridge in the background.
The Power of Fleming Creek Marker and Mills image. Click for full size.
By Joel Seewald, April 18, 2017
8. The Power of Fleming Creek Marker and Mills
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 27, 2017. This page originally submitted on June 27, 2017, by Joel Seewald of Madison Heights, Michigan. This page has been viewed 45 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. submitted on June 27, 2017, by Joel Seewald of Madison Heights, Michigan.
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