Yorktown in York County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
The Yorktown Windmill
History of the Original Yorktown Windmill
Built in 1711 by William Buckner, the Yorktown Windmill was a guidepost on the York River for nearly two centuries. After retiring from his post as Surveyor General of Virginia, Buckner purchased the pointed bluff just above Yorktown from John Lewis of Gloucester for the express purpose of building a mill to grind corn. Although Buckner died only five years later, the mill continued to provide most of the flour for York County throughout the 18th and 19th Centuries.
Although the mill was never photographed, there are a number of paintings, engravings and sketches that show the windmill and its location through the years. The first of these is a painting entitled, “A View of the Town of York Virginia from the River” which was painted by Lt. Thomas Davies, an officer on the H.M.S. Success during its voyage to Nova Scotia and Virginia from 1754-1756.
Perhaps the best known depiction of the windmill is in the painting by James and Charles Peale entitled “Washington and his Generals at Yorktown”. Painted in 1784, the image is a depiction of the Commanders following the siege of Yorktown. While the windmill is not the central focus of the painting, its inclusion here demonstrates that the mill survived in the original location from its
A depiction of the Yorktown Windmill in decline is portrayed in the image entitled, "View of Yorktown, from the Old Windmill, as You Approach from Williamsburg." A hand-colored wood engraving, this image was published in 1848 by Robert Sears as part of his collection, "A New and Popular Pictorial Description of the United States."
A Yorktown Landmark
During both the American Revolution and the American Civil War, Yorktown took the center stage of history during key campaigns. Military and logistical maps from both periods show the Yorktown Windmill as a landmark. Research conducted during the reconstruction of the Yorktown Windmill, suggests that it may have relocated across Windmill Creek in the early 1800s.
The Reconstructed Windmill
Plans to reconstruct the Yorktown Windmill began in 2008 during discussion between engineer Walt Akers and Superintendent Dan Smith of Colonial National Historical Park. The design seen here is derived from surviving paintings of the original mill, examination of research from the Historic American Building Survey and site visits to nearly a dozen surviving American windmills from the 18th and 19th centuries. The reconstructed windmill stands less than 100 yards from where the original windmill was built.
The Yorktown Windmill remains on permanent loan from the Akers’ Family to the Watermen’s Museum.
Erected 2014 by Twisted Oaks Foundation, National Park Service, Watermen's Museum.
Location. 37° 14.354′ N, 76° 30.67′ W. Marker is in Yorktown, Virginia, in York County. Marker is on Water Street (County Route 1020) 0.1 miles east of Mathews Street, on the right when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 301 Water Street, Yorktown VA 23690, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Naval Weapons Station (within shouting distance of this marker); John Smith Explores the Chesapeake (within shouting distance of this marker); Join the Adventure (within shouting The Watermen's Museum (within shouting distance of this marker); Aviation Field Yorktown (within shouting distance of this marker); Yorktown's Windmill (within shouting distance of this marker); The Betsy (within shouting distance of this marker); Chesapeake Bay Watermen (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Yorktown.
Also see . . .
1. The Yorktown Windmill Project. (Submitted on October 8, 2014.)
2. The Watermen’s Museum. (Submitted on October 8, 2014.)
Categories. • Colonial Era • Industry & Commerce •
Credits. This page was last revised on October 23, 2016. This page originally submitted on October 7, 2014, by Walt Akers of Yorktown, Virginia. This page has been viewed 341 times since then and 27 times this year. Photos: 1. submitted on October 7, 2014, by Walt Akers of Yorktown, Virginia. 2, 3, 4. submitted on October 23, 2016, by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.