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Sciota Mill

  • A millstone stands against the front wall of the mill.
    A millstone stands against the front wall of the mill.
Published October 04. 2013 05:00PM

McMichaels Creek runs through the small town of Sciota, Hamilton Township, Monroe County.

But for a short distance it goes crashing over a few small falls. It was this water that made the location an ideal place to start a mill.

Brinker's Mill, a log structure, is believed to have been built in 1729 and provided grist mill services to the local farmers.

During May, the mill was open and the Chestnuthill Historical Society visited during a demonstration day.

In 1779 it gained a measure of importance as a stopping place for the 4,000 military men traveling from Easton to the Wyoming Valley (Scranton-Wilkes Barre) to put down Indians who were attacking settlers. They camped just south of the historical marker.

The log structure was replaced by Bernhard Fenner in 1800 using stone, and is the present mill. Active milling ended in 1954. It went through several more owners and in 1974 Karl Hope donated it to Hamilton Township with the stipulation that "it should be held and maintained for historical, cultural and/or government purposes."

An Old Mill Restoration Council was created. It cares for and gives twice yearly demonstrations, though Tim Hodgdon, tour guide, wishes it would go back to four times a year. Meetings are the last Wednesday of the month in the township building. Visitors are welcome.

The mill was placed on the Pennsylvania Register of Historic Places in August 1975 and on the National Register of Historic Places in May 1976. The state recognition was commemorated by the raising of a flag by the Sciota Minute Men.

The township received a sizeable contribution from the Robacker Estate for the restoration of the mill. Gus Roof, a millwright, was contracted to restore the mill to a working 1700s condition.

The Fenner Snyder Robacker house is diagonally across Route 209 from the mill and is usually open when the mill is. Those names are associated with the mill.

The flow of water is strong enough to operate the original overshot water wheel, which was replaced by a turbine in 1935, and with an undershot wheel during the restoration. During a flood a corner of the mill was damaged and the Department of Environmental Protection made the township add a tank to the outside to provide strength to the wall.

A mill owner was a prominent person in a community providing ground grain for people in the form of flour and for animal feed. Before there were roads grain may have been brought to the mill by pack animal, but that changed to wagons as soon as there were passable roads.

The Old Mill was designed as a one-man operation. Grain was cleaned of dust and chaff and allowed to drop onto the millstones, which were brought from France. The stones can be set to grind fine or rough product.

Hodgdon was well versed in what the various pieces of equipment were used for. In addition, there was a video playing on the main floor.

One pulley on the third floor drove all the belts that powered the equipment.

Many of the rafters were sawn, but enough old rough-cut ones indicate that the sawn ones were replacements over the years.

The waterwheel in the basement drives two geared wheels that turn the grindstones. On the opposite side of the mill the water exits under a stone-arched waterway with a metal grate reaching down to water level.

Thanks to Hamilton Township and the Old Mill Restoration Council, the Sciota Mill continues to tell history-rich stories of a more simple day.

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