tv Peirce Mill CSPAN October 8, 2016 9:25am-9:51am EDT
this election cycle is national security. i feel as though we have problems with borders and also with foreign threats and i feel that that is important in this up-and-coming cycle. >> my name is alex. i go to him to sydney college and at think the most important issue in the 2016 election is the economy. >> i'm harrison. i go to hampden sydney college. to me the most important issue for candidates to address would rights.itutional -- values people like thomas jefferson held onto, preserving those. >> voices from the road on c-span. >> each week, american history tvs american artifacts takes us to museums and historical places to say what our defense reveal
about history. rock creek park cover 1700 acres from the mouth of the creek in georgetown, north to the districts border with maryland. we visited built in the early 1800s. >> standing in front of pierce mill in rock creek park. this is one of the last vestiges of the rule path of washington. it is the only one, part of the way of life in farming that happened in the early 1800s. the owner of the mill was a former quaker from pennsylvania. he came to the washington area hethe late 70's, 90's, and bought a lot of land. ultimately 160 acres along rock. there was an old mill here that this millit he built
in about 1820. had a whole farmstead here, a farm house, a house that may have been a distillery, a barn, springhouse, an entire farm area here. the mill was built in 1820 and stayed in operation through almost the entire 19th century. the mill was subsumed into rock creek park in 1890 when the rock creek park was founded and it kept operating for several more years and ended in 1897 when the main shaft of the wheel broke and that was the end of operations forever. back in the early 19th century, alis was role that role -- rur
land. it was separate jurisdiction from washington city. florida avenue was the old boundary street, the northern boundary of washington city. this was washington county. washington county was sparsely inhabited, less than 10,000 people lived here. mostly farmers and large landholders and the farmers here grew all sorts of crops, a lot of wheat corn and ride was grown for local use and for shipping along the east coast. >> mills were very important to this economy. because you had farmers that , they had tograin really come up with an efficient way of contacting that material for transportation to markets elsewhere and essentially, that
is what the miller's job was, to turn a crop of harvested grain into flour and packet into barrels so that it would be commercially a viable commercial product. there were mills all along rock creek that used the power of the andk to turn the millstones they served the local farmers, grinding their grain for them so they could ship it to market. there was a number of mills along the creek. is thest mill behind me only surviving one. there were several others in the district just south of here, the atoms no that was actually owned by the foreign president john 20 atoms -- the former president .ohn quincy adams there were a number of mills and north along the creek as well. industrythriving local
in the 19th century. pierce mill we believe was typical of many of the mills in the early 19th century in that it used what was then a revolutionary, belts. this was a system developed by a delaware inventor named oliver evans and patented by him. he invented it in the 1790's, and it changed milling. there were lots of little mills like this throughout the eastern seaboard, and it was a very labor-intensive operation originally. millers had to have lots of assistance to pour grain into the mill and sift it out once it had been ground and pack it into barrels and so forth, and he came up with a way of automating almost all of that, using the same energy from the mill wheel
that moved the millstones themselves, he used that same energy through various cause and -- various cogs and wheels and chutes and ladders almost to automate the entire process. this allowed basically a mill to be run by a miller and one or maybe two assistants. so it saved a lot of money. made the mills much more efficient, and really made a big difference. we believe -- we are pretty sure that peirce mill had that oliver evans type system in it and has been restored now to have that system. once the mill had ground all of the grain into flour and it was packed into barrels, sometimes the barrels would be given to the farmer who brought them usually. this was a so-called custom mill, a small mill that served local farmers directly as opposed to some larger mills
that had more commercial roles. so the barrels would be given back to the farmer. the miller would take a percentage. it was fixed by law as his cut. that would be his payment rather than a payment in cash. the farmer would take his grain and barrels and usually take it into washington city or down to georgetown for sale there, for distribution to other cities along the eastern seaboard, or, as i said, into washington city along one of these rustic mill roads that used to be out here in washington county. the main road that is now georgia avenue, for example, to the east from here went down and connected to 7th street and ended up downtown at the large center market on pennsylvania avenue. a big, bustling market that sold all sorts of produce and farm
goods, and farmers would sell grain -- sell their flour down there. the mill stopped operations in 1897 when the main shaft broke. the mill was already on the grounds of rock creek park. very quickly, the mill became a very rustic, scenic spot for gathering and recreation. it was seen as a romantic emblem of days past even at that time. there were frequent -- there were dances in the mill. people would come out and ride out in their carriages on weekends just to enjoy the park out here. the mill would be a gathering space for them. soon in the early 1900's, the mill wheel was taken down, and a big room was added on, and they
created this teahouse. teahouses were very popular in the 1910's, they were a fad almost. so there was a tea house here, and again, this was a rustic type of bucolic entertainment that people really enjoyed. and the teahouse was very popular. and continued in operation up until the 1930's when under the works progress administration, there was finally an effort to restore the mill back to its operating condition, put the wheel back and put the machinery back that had been taken out, so that is when the teahouse finally ended and the mill was first restored. it took the mill through the 20th century, went through a number of iterations of working and not working.
it takes a lot of effort to keep a mill like this going. the wooden machinery wears out. the mill wheel itself wears out. it is out in the elements. it is made of wood. the mill operated at times and went out of operation, and finally, in 1993 was the last time that the shaft of the mill wheel broke, and the mill went out of operation, and a large effort was undertaken through the early 2000's by a group called the friends of the peirce mill to get it restored once again. in 2011, it reopened and is now again operating as a mill. >> hi, welcome to peirce mill. this is a almost 200-year-old gristmill. it grinds up grain into flour using the power of the
waterwheel outside. farmers would be waiting outside, 10 or 12 wagons would be waiting. they would bring the family and have a picnic. there was swimming and fishing. there is usually a dam associated with the mill. a lot of times, towns would spring up around where mills are. the farmer would bring the grain in. the miller gets paid a percentage of the grain for his services to bring it in and dump it down the receiving hopper, which is over here behind you, but you are on this floor here. this is the receiving hopper. you would dump the green down the chute. it is going to ride the grain elevator, which is little cups that go by about a cup a second all on a big pulley. it goes up to the top floor. the grain cleaner tumbles it around, gets rid of dirt and bugs. from there, there is corn. you put it in the corn bin. goes down to the millstones, gets ground-up, and from there,
it goes down to the basement. there's a little bit of a shaker sifter, and you have corn meal. if you have wheat, you dump it down. it rides the elevator up, gets cleaned, goes into the bin and gets ground-up. that meal will travel the elevator a second time. it goes up to the top floor. it is not in the picture, but we can show you. there is a big round back. it has a rake that goes around, all powered by the waterwheel, spreads the meal out and dries it and eventually pushes it down to the bolter, a long sifting machine that separates out the fine white flour and the brand. -- and the bran. when it is separated, it comes out to where the three chutes are, so you can take the stack or barrel, whatever you brought your grain in, and take your flour or bran. they did not have the sifter to
separates different sizes of flour, so they had to use bolts of cloth. or muslin.k, linen, prior to oliver evans inventing his milling system, which you see here, which he did patent in 1795, you would have to carry 50-pound sacks of flour, corn, or wheat up three flights of stairs, dump it in the cleaner. it comes down, gets ground-up, and now does in the basement and you would have to scoop up all that meal and carry that up four flights of stairs into the attic, so they would pay young boys to rake that around on the ground, spread it out and dry it, and then you had to scoop it up for a third time and taken to a whole other building to be sifted. with oliver evans' system, you could put raw materials here and get a finished product here, so
he is the father of automation. peirce mill mostly ground wheat and corn here, but they would grind whatever the farmer brought in. rye, oats, barley, whatevery they wanted. when the wheat would come in, it had to be dry and cleaned like this, and then it gets grounded to whole-wheat flour like this. to get what you're used to seeing for baking, you have to sift it, and that's where the bolter comes in. back in the day, they separated the bran, the outside brown part of the seed, because they did not like to eat it. they would feed it to the animals. we now know that is the healthiest part for you, so you would have healthy animals and you could eat those. there are three types of waterwheels that were used back in the day. currently, peirce mill used a breast shot wheel. the overshot wheel is when you
live in high, mountainous areas, so you have water coming down, so you can use the push of the water and the weight of the water to turn the wheel. it hits the top and pushes it around. if you live in a mixed area, like we do here, some high, some low, you can use a breast shot wheel and a dam to do for the water to have more push when it gets here. it usually hits chest high and will turn the waterwheel backward. if you are out west where it is very flat, even if you have a dam, you will not get the water up very high, you will use the under shot wheel where the wheel catches the current of the water to turn the wheel. here we have the parts taken apart so you can see all the different parts. this is how the mill parts look when they are put together for milling. this is the bed stone. this is the bottom stone. it stays stationary.
the top stone over here, this is the runner stone, the one that is going to spin around. you will have to use this stone crane here to lift it up and put it on. all the weight balances on that little pin right here. these bars sit in the stone so when the outside wheel is going around, this is going around. you need the stone crane because the top stone weighs 2400 pounds. notice it has grooves carved in all these lines. that's on the top of the bed stone. the grooves are passing each other and cutting it like scissors. people frequently think of stoneground flour as stone grinding together like this and crushing of the grain. if you do that, you get bits of rock in your flour and that's not very good for your teeth, and you also get a really stinky smell. fireworks.urned like
so i asked the miller, if i smell that smell, i know my stones are touching, so i crank this lever around a few times, and it raises this a tiny little bit to get a very fine cut. it's also how you adjust for different fineness. fine white flour is fine like baby powder whereas cornmeal is lumpy. to thene has heard nose rindstone, people think that it means working hard. but it actually means pay attention. as the miller, i can make sure that my stones are not touching and you get much better flour. here are the mill parts are together for milling. this part is called the hopper. this is where you dump the grain in. this part here is called the horse. also called the chair because it has four legs. this part here is the shoe and it adjusts for how quickly the
grain is poured into the eye of the stone. this part here is called a damsel, so when the mill is running, that part is spinning around and the shoe is bumping up against it to keep a steady flow. you can adjust it like this if you want it faster or slower into the eye of the stone. i also learned the hard way you have to give it a good whack because it is in here by friction. if you do not, the vibration of the mill when it is running will vibrate this outcome of fall on the floor, and all 50 pounds of your corn will go, wham, right in the middle at one time. back in the day, they did build the dams father up the creek to divert the water into a channel to bring in water at a higher velocity to increase the power as it got here. that has been filled in since the early 1930's.
when the park service redid the mill, they closed off both inns and put in a great recirculating pump that takes the water and puts it up in the head rate, which is where it would normally come in from the creek. to get ready, we have to check and make sure everything is in the right place. the damsel is at 90 degrees. my shoe has been whacked so it will not dump all the corn at once. and now, we will dump some corn. ok. now you have to pad the stone. you have to add three pounds
down there so the stones have plenty of corn to work with and do not rub up against each other. next thing we have to do is raise the top stone. right now, it is sitting down on the other stone like a brake on your bicycle, so we raise it up. it's going to break the friction. it starts moving slightly, and i'm going to add the water with this lever here. it lifts up the gate outside to lather water to go on the wheel and start running the mill. so here we go. raising up now. now we will add some more water. come on. there we go.
drop the stone back down a little bit. not that much. there we have it. there is the corn going into the eye of the stone. it gets spread out by centrifugal force. the grooves are passing each other and cutting the grain into a fine powder, and it's going to come out downstairs. ok, here we see the cornmeal coming out nice and fresh just off the wheel. this is how the miller checks
for how finely the grain is ground up. rub it in your hand. you also check to see how moist it is by clumping it. you get the bigger pieces to go into the barrel for the chicken, and this is the cornmeal down here. smell that cornmeal. over here, you see the main shaft, which is a whole entire white oak tree that is cured for about 10 years before it is made into a mill shaft. you can see outside where it goes to the outside waterwheel, so the outside waterwheel is turning, the inside gears are turning. the large gear turns that gear that turns that gear that turns the millstone. >> the mill is really important to washington and to all of us now because it is this unique relic from the early 19th century, a piece of what life
was like for people in washington county in the rural parts of this area, and there's nothing like it in washington. it gives a real sense of the day-to-day type of technology that was used at the time. it is a way of life. it is a very direct, earthy, almost sense that you get from going into the mill and watching the wheels turn and smelling the grain and the wood and everything. it is a sense that you cannot really get anywhere else, and i think it is important for people to experience that and see that because it is so different from modern life, and it is important for us to have a sense of where we came from and how much life has changed.
>> you can watch this and other "american artifacts" by visiting our website, c-span.org/history. this the communicators evening, we are talking with the professor of computer and electrical engineering at carnegie university about developing self-driving cars. >> the cadillac behind me, and google for example. the next generation will be automobile useing technology completely. they would be able to deal with more scenarios on the road. able to drive on rose they have never seen before. atwatch the communicators
6:30 p.m. eastern on c-span2. join us next week for this conclusion on cars that talk to each other and the road. 2500 pagesreleased of previously classified material from the richard nixon and gerald ford administration. they were part of the president's daily brief on security threats and issues seen only by the president and selected officials. historians discuss changes residents made to the daily briefing, the relationship between the cia, department of defense, and the white house during the richard nixon administration. let me add my welcome to previous remarks and welcome you to one of my many houses. the system was created by franklin