Operating Water-Powered Sash and Muley Sawmills

United States

  • Nichols-Colby Sawmill, Old Sturbridge Village, Massachusetts. A superb reconstruction of a New Hampshire 1830s-era sash sawmill. Wonderfully detailed drawings of the original Nichols-Colby sawmill near Bow, NH can be found at HABS-HAER and were the basis for building the mill at Old Sturbridge Village. Discussed in Penn, Theodore Z. and Parks, Roger. (1975). Nichols-Colby Sawmill in Bow, New Hampshire. IA: The Journal of the Society for Industrial Archaeology, 1 (1), 1-12. The OSV website has several nice pages showing different types of waterwheels and turbines and a brief overview of water powered sawmills
  • Taylor Mill, Derry, New Hampshire. A reconstructed sash sawmill owned by the state of New Hampshire. A web site with terrific and informative renderings of the Taylor Mill workings is well worth a look.
  • Hurd and Briggs Sawmill, Elma New York.  Operating reconstruction of a 19th century sash sawmill powered by a a wood water wheel
  • Historic Mill Creek Sawmill, Mackinac Island State Park, Michigan. Reconstruction of a late 18th century sash sawmill. 
  • Herrling Sawmill, Greenbush, Wisconsin. This reconstructed muley saw was opened in 2001 and is part of the Wade House historic site. Discussed in Knipping, Mark, "Cutting Edge History: Reconstructing the Herrling Sawmill," Wisconsin Magazine of History, 85 (Summer 2002), 20–31. 
  • Hamer's Mill, Spring Mill State Park, Mitchell, Indiana. A 1932 restoration (or possibly a total reconstruction) of an early 19th century sash sawmill. Part of the Pioneer Village at Spring Mill State Park. Find a video here showing the sawmill in operation. 
  • Leonard's Mills, Bradley, Maine. This 20th century replica of an early sash sawmill at the Maine Forest and Logging Museum is demonstrated occasionally (but runs at an agonizingly slow rate to prevent damage to the wood gearing and other power transmission components). 
  • Bertolet Sawmill, Daniel Boone Homestead, Birdboro in eastern Pennsylvania. Mill was moved from Oley Valley to new a location and reconstructed in a state park based on the original mill ruins and information from Oliver Evans “The Young Mill-wright and Millers Guide”. Discussed in Dickey, John M. (1973). Restoration of the Bertolet Sawmill. Association for Preservation Technology Bulletin, 5(2), 155-161. Video of the saw in action can be seen here
  • Kirtland Sawmill in Kirtland, Ohio. Reconstruction of a mill originally built during the Mormon westward migration to supply their needs in settling this area. 

Canada

  • McDonald Brothers' Sawmill, Sherbrooke Village, Sherbrooke, Nova Scotia. Reconstruction of a sash sawmill powered by an overshot water wheel. 
  • Kings Landing Sawmill, near Fredericton, New Brunswick. A reconstructed sash 1830s sawmill with an overshot water wheel and wooden gearing. Part of the Kings Landing Historical Settlement. 
  • Beach's Sawmill, Upper Canada Village Heritage Park, Morrisburg, Ontario. An operating muley saw at the Upper Canada Village historic park. 
  • O'Hara Sawmill, The O’Hara Mill Homestead, Madoc, Ontario. Restored 1850 sash sawmill powered by a turbine. A brief history page on the O'Hara mill has a link to a wonderful document that pins down the date————a May 6, 1850 agreement between James O'Hara and his son James, Jr. outlining the terms of their partnership in the sawmill they intend to build.

Europe

  • Gunton Sawmill, near Aylsham, Norfolk, UK. An operating sash sawmill in the UK was restored in the 1970s. Powered by waterwheel and has an enormous metal flywheel as part of the works. A nice sequence of photos and video can be found here. Search flickr.com for additional photos. 
  • Dunham Massey Water-powered Sawmill located near the Metropolitan Borough of Trafford, Greater Manchester, near Altrincham, Cheshire County, England dates from the second half of 19th century. 
  • Sawmill in Bjørkedalen, Norway. Find a video of this water-powered sash sawmill here
  • A video of a second water powered sash sawmill in Norway is here. Voice-over is in Norwegion. 
  • A video of a mill in the Tyrolean Alps of Italy can be viewed here
  • A video of a water powered German mill at Freilichtmuseum Kommern in Betrieb can be viewed here
  • A video of an early (1673) sash saw called a knocking saw now at Vogtsbauernhof in south-eastern Germany can be viewed here. Clcik on "More" to read description of operation. 
  • A short video of a sawmill in Oltingen, a municipality in the district of Sissach in the canton of Basel- Country in Switzerland. 
  • A second water powered sawmill in Aino preindustrial craft centre in San Carlo di Poschiavo, canton Graubünden, Switzerland can be seen at the end of the video located here

Other Web Sites of Interest

Sawmills

  • Chamberlin Mill, Woodstock, Connecticut. A community group is dedicated to restoring this historic mill and bringing it to operating condition. 
  • Scribner’s Mill, Harrison, Maine. Restoration of this sash mill and water source is ongoing. 
  • The Old MIll Museum, Weston Vermont. A gristmill powered by a Tyler turbine. Also has surviving parts of an historic sash sawmill. 
  • Hatch Mill, Marshfield, Massachusetts. Restoration is planned for this sash sawmill. A wonderful short film about Hatch's mill is available on YouTube. 
  • Sanborn Mills Farm, Loudon, New Hampshire. An operating water-powered circular sawmill. 
  • Tripp Sawmill, Greenfield Village, Henry Ford Museum, Dearborn, Michigan. A steam-driven sawmill purchased by Henry Ford in the late 1920s and moved to his Greenfield Village history museum. Not operating now, but was used in the construction of some of the Greenfield Village buildings. Discussed in Greuther, Mark (2004). Tripp's Sawmill, 1926. Technology and Culture, 45(4), 808-811. 
  • Morningstar Mill, St. Catherines, Ontario. A reconstructed circular sawmill powered by a turbine. 
  • Stover-Myers Sawmill, eastern, Pennsylvania. Restoration of this National Historic Place by the Bucks County Parks and Recreation Department is ongoing, with plans to reactivate the grist and saw milling operations. It is opened seasonally in cooperation with the Bedminster Historical Society and other volunteers. Click here for additional photos. The sawmill is adjacent to a grist mill that was in use until 1955. The saw was only used until 1918, providing beams, joists and planks for area farms and towns. A unique feature of the sawmill is the old millstone that is used as a flywheel. 
  • Sutter’s Mill, Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park, California. Replica of the sash sawmill that stood on the site associated with the California Gold Rush of the late 1840s. 
  • Welbeck Sawmill, Durham, Ontario. A water-powered shingle mill reconstructed in 1984 that is part of a retail tool and lumber store. 

Additional sites of interest

  • Early American Industries Association. EAIA is an organization whose mission of preserving and representing historic trades, crafts, and tools fits perfectly with goal of the Ledyard Up-Down Sawmill. A demonstration of the Ledyard Sawmill was part of the 2010 EAIA Annual Meeting in Mystic, CT. 
  • Historic Barns of Connecticut. The mill is listed by the CT Trust for Historic Preservation Project under Historic Barns of CT. Details of the listing include historic photos and comments from a site visit. Note some references to the mill refer to it as the Main Sawmill, commemorating its last private owner. 
  • Mercer Museum, Doylestown, PA. Henry Mercer's eclectic collection of old stuff is displayed at the museum. Includes a sash saw in its frame, ways, and log carriage on display (although not easily viewed - it's suspended in the air in the gallery). 
  • Mid-West Tool Collector's Association. The name says "Mid-West", but really an international association interested in historical tools, trades, and technologies. Members are interested in collecting and sharing both objects and information on these topics. 
  • SPOOM – The Society for Preservation of Old Mills 
  • The Toolemera Press. A great site for information about early trades and crafts. Has several 19th century saw manufacturer catalogs available for free viewing 
  • wkFineTools. Has a section on US saw manufacturers that includes information and images of documents on several 19th century manufacturers of sash sawmill blades. 

Ledyard, Connecticut sites of interest