Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A Place Lost in Time

Near this beautiful rushing water and you will find...

the working mill at Babcock State Park in Fayette County, West Virginia. This is one of the few parks we had not visited so when we found ourselves so close by at Clifftop, we had to make time to visit, if only briefly. We stayed longer than we intended but not nearly as long as we wanted.

Inside the mill, the working parts are impressive for their size, simplicity and at the same time intricacy of detail. The wood gears, stone wheel, big belts and pulleys all know their job and perform it regularly, grinding corn for visitors.

On the second floor of the mill, a barrel carved out of the whole trunk of a sycamore tree bears testimony to the skill and patience of early craftsmen. Although its bottom is gone, the barrel is still an impressive sight.

A winnowing machine on the second floor did not appear to be in use. How winnowing works: a hand crank turns a fan inside that blows the chaff away from seed, allowing the cleaned seed to drop through a screen and then be ready to grind. That's the basics, anyway.

A small window looks out from the third floor of the mill. We clambered all the way up, vertigo be damned. I wanted to see what was up there? And what was there to see? Nothing except this view from the window, breathtaking in more ways than one. With vertigo, going down is the tricky part. Larry went ahead of me so that I could not see down the stairs (no handrail, of course) and that worked.

More pics of Babcock tomorrow. A place to visit again? Absolutely. We only had a very short amount of time to spend at the park, but it was worth every minute.


Rowan said...

Marvellous place, how good that it is still working and grinding corn. The sycamore barrel is impressive, so is the winnowing machine. It looks like a beautiful setting too.

Janet, said...

I would love to stop there sometime. We almost did this summer when we were in the southern part of the state. I think I read where it is one of the most popular sites to take pictures of in WV.

Granny Sue said...

Rowan, it is gorgeous. The pictures don't do it justice.

I am sure you're right, Janet. I'm no photo pro but it's hard to take a bad picture of the mill and its surroundings.

The miller is an interesting guy who knows a lot of the history of the mill. I didn't have an opportunity to talk to him very much, but I'd like to do that. He said a man stopped by recently who had helped build the cabins at Babcock with the CCC in 1941. Can you imagine? And still able to travel? He must be in his 80's.

warren said...

That looks like an awesome trip! It's so close and yet we've never been... I suppose it is impressive now with all the rain too!

Matthew Burns said...

I love the Babcock Mill. Many people don't know that the current grist mill wasn't originally built there, rather it is an amalgamation of three separate grist mills from Pocahontas, Pendleton and Grant Counties.

From stateparks.com/babcock_fayette.html

"Of special interest, the mill was created by combining parts and pieces from three mills which once dotted the state. The basic structure of the mill came from the Stoney Creek Grist Mill which dates back to 1890. It was dismantled and moved piece by piece to Babcock from a spot near Campbelltown in Pocahontas County. After an accidental fire destroyed the Spring Run Grist Mill near Petersburg, Grant County, only the overshot water wheel could be salvaged. Other parts for the mill came from the Onego Grist Mill near Seneca Rocks in Pendleton County."

The best part for me is two of those three original grist mills that now make up the Babcock Mill were built and operated by my family. The Spring Run Mill, locally known as the Iman Mill, was built and operated by my Iman ancestors in Dorcas, Grant County; and the Onego Grist Mill (locally known as the Roaring Creek Mill) was built and operated by my Hedrick ancestors in Pendleton County.

I'm just glad that parts of these mills were salvaged and reconstructed as the Glade Creek Grist Mill, one of the most photogenic locales in the country.

Granny Sue said...

The miller mentioned that, Matthew, but I didn't realize you were connected to those mills. How cool is that. And since you're kinda sorta related to my sister
through her husband, that means I have a very tenuous connection to the mill too. I like that thought.

Warren, like you we always intended to visit but just never quite got there. Now I'd like to go back and spend a few days instead of a few hours. Way too pretty to miss.

Cathy said...

Al and I drove up there ne Father's Day with his children. They had such a good time and for a hot summer day it was very cool in the park. The miller is very nice and good with children. I'd like to spend some time there in one of the cabins someday.

Mary said...

What a great place! Love the photos! Larry is such a good guy, helping you down the stairs! What a gent'!

Margaret said...

You brought back some incredible photos...How interesting, and I think I could have meandered around there for quite some time..For some reason, I love them all, but the window one is my fave..

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