Wade’s Mill Trip – Part II

Tucked away in the village of Raphine, VA just off 1-64 between Lexington and Staunton, is a little piece of the 18th century. This rare piece of history, Wade’s Mill, dates back to 1742, and still has many of its original components – including a functioning waterwheel that drives the millstone that grinds wheat, much as it when it was first built.

Our group arrived at the storybook house one Saturday and were soon  greeted by a wiry, white-haired gentleman who referred to himself as a miller – a term, I realized, one rarely hears anymore. Jim Young happily explained the inner-workings of the mill, from the way wheat and corn is routed through the mill, to the challenges of keeping an antique waterwheel up and running.

The interior of the mill was simple and rustic. One corner had a built-in fireplace. Another held several bushels of whole grains of soft wheat, soon to be milled. The mill itself is four stories tall, with each portion of the building having a purpose. Grain is moved around with a nifty system of grain elevators and spouts, moving the wheat and corn into the water- and electric-powered mills (unlike industrial mills that use massive rollers instead of millstones, as Wade’s Mill does.)

It was a fascinating to see an old-fashioned way of processing food – one that doesn’t involve reducing food to its simplest compounds and recombining them into a product that only vaguely resembles food.  A visit is highly recommended.  After you see whole grains converted into tasty, nutritious flour, you might just be motivated like I was to devoting the rest of the day to baking fresh bread and cookies.

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4 Responses

  1. Special thanks to Robin Proebsting for this insightful post about the field trip!

  2. Hi, I tried to go to Wade’s Mill website to contact them for a visit, but their number does not work. Do you guys by chance have a way of contacting the Mill? Any info would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
    Emma

    • Are these the two phone numbers that you tried? 800-290-1400 or 540-348-1400

      • Yes! and they didn’t work…maybe I should try them again. I tried a number of times the day I was looking on line, but have not tried since them. Are those the numbers you used? Thanks.

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