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tv   Peirce Mill  CSPAN  October 28, 2016 11:10pm-11:36pm EDT

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a lot of land, ultimately 160 acres along rock creek park and he bought -- there was an old mill here that he bought and he built this mill in about 1820 and he had a whole farm said the here. there was a farmhouse, there was a house that may have been -- a building that may have been a distillery, a barn, a spring house, an entire farm area here. the mill, as i said, was built in 1820 and stayed in operation through almost the entire 19th century. it was -- the mill was subsumed into rock creek park in 1890 when the rock creek park was founded and it kept operating for seven more years and finally ended in 1897 when the main shaft of the mill wheel broke
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and that was the end of milling operations forever. back in the early 19th century this was rural land out here this was washington county. it was a separate legal jurisdiction from washington city which is what we now think of as downtown. florida avenue was the old boundary street, that was the northern boundary of washington city and this was washington county. washington county was sparsely inhabited, less than 10,000 people lived out here, mostly farmers and large land holders and farmers here grew all sorts of crops, a lot of wheat and corn and rye was grown for a local use and for shipping along the east coast. mills were very important to this rural economy and because you had formers that were growing grains, you had to -- they had to really come up with
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an efficient way of compacting that material for transportation to markets elsewhere. and essentially that's what the miller's job was -- to turn a crop of harvested grain into flour and meal and pack it into barrels so that it would be commercially -- a viable commercial product and there were mills all along rock creek that used the power of the creek to turn the millstones and they served the farm, local farmers, grinding the grain for them so that they could ship it to markets. there was a whole -- there were a number of mills along the creek. pierce mill behind me is the only surviving one, there were several others in the district just south of here was the adams mill that was actually owned by former president john quincy
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adams at one point. there was also the lion's mill further down near georgetown and there were a number of mills north along the creek as well. so it was a thriving local industry milling in the 19th century. pierce mill, we believe, was typical of many of the mills in the early 19th century in that it used a -- what was then a revolutionary advanced system of gears and pulleys and wheels and belts and this was a system developed by a delaware inventor named oliver evans and patented by him. he invented it in the 1790s and it changed milling. there were lots of little mills like this throughout the eastern sea board and they were -- it was a very labor-intensive operation originally, millers had to have lots of assistance to pour grain into the hopper of
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the mill and sift it out once it had been ground and pack it into barrels and so forth and evans came up with a way of automating almost all of that and using the same energy from the mill wheel that moved the millstones themselves he used that same energy through various cogs and wheels and chutes and latters to automate almost the entire milling process. and 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 and we believe -- we're pretty sure pierce mill had that oliver evans type system and it's been restored to have that system so once the mill had ground all of the grain into flour and it was packed in barrels, sometimes the
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barrels would be given to the farmer who brought them, usually, because this was a so-called custom mill. it was a small mill that served local farmers directly as opp e opposed to larger mills that had more commercial roles and so the barrels will be given back to the farmer, the miller here would take a percentage that was fixed by law as his cut, that would be his famt rather than a payment in cash and the farmer would take his grain and barrels and usually take it into washington city or down to georgetown, to the port of georgetown for sale there for distribution to other cities along the eastern sea board, 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
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connected to 7th street and ended up downtown at the large center market on pennsylvania avenue, the big bustling market that sold all sorts of produce and farm goods and farmers would sell their flour down there. so the mill stopped operations in 1897 when the main shaft broke and the mill was already on the grounds of rock creek park and 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 and there were frequent -- there were dances in the mill, there were -- people would come ride out in their carriages on weekends just to enjoy the park
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out here and the mill would be a gathering space for them and soon in the early 1900s, the mill wheel was taken down and a big room was added on and they created this tea house. tea houses were very pop yu tea houses were very pop ylar i the 1910s, 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 tea house was very popular and continued in operation up until the 1930s when under the works approximate administration there was finally an effort to restore the mill back to its operating condition and put the wheel back and put the machinery back that had been taken out so that's when the tea house finally ended and the mill was
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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's out in the elements, it's made of wood so the mill on prated 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 2000s by a group called the friends of pierce mill to finally get it restored once again and in 2011 it reopened and is now, again,
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operating as a mill. >> welcome to pierce mill, this is an almost 200 year old gristmill. it grinds grain into flour using the power of the water wheel outside. farmers would be waiting outside probably about 10 or 12 wagons would wait outside, they'd bring the whole family here, have a picnic, it takes a while to have your grain ground up so they could also have swimming and fishing, there's usually a dam associated with the mill so they would do that. there's checkers, a lot of times towns would spring up around where mills are. so the farmer would bring the grain in, the miller weighs it, he gets paid a percentage of the grain for his services so bring it in and dump it down the receiving hopper, which is over here behind you. you are on this floor here. this is the receiving hopper so you would dump the grain down the chute, it's going to ride the grain elevator which are little cups, they go by about a
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cup a second on a big pulley, goes up to the top floor, the grain cleaner tumbles it around, gets rid of dirt and bugs, from there if it's corn you put in the the corn bin, goes down to the mill stones and gets ground up and from there it goes down into the basement so using the power of water and gravity. there's a little bit of a shaker shifter that gets the big pieces to go in the barrel for the chickens and you have corn meal. if you have wheat you dump it down, it rides the elevator up, get cleaned, go into the wheat bin, then it gets ground up. that meal will travel the elevator the second time, goes up to the top floor of the mill. it's not in our picture but we can show you. there's a big round vat called a hopper boy, has a rate that goes around powered by the water bhe wheel, spreads the meal around and pushes it down to the bolter. the bolter is a long shifting machine that separates out the fine white flour and the serial sized bits and the bran.
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once it's separated it comes out to where the three chutes are so you can take the sack or barrel, whatever you brought your grain in, and take your flour, cereal and bran. the bolter is called a bolter because back in the day they didn't have the wire mesh to separate out the different size grains of flour so they had to use bolts of cloth such as silk, linen, muslin stretched nice and tight to get the right size holes. prior oliver evans with his milling system here which he did patent, received a third patent for his milling system in 1795, you would have to carry the 50 pound sacks of flour -- corn other wheat up through flights of stairs, dump in the the cleaner, comes down, gets ground up and now it's in the basement, now you would have to scoop up that meal and carry that up now four flights of stairs up into thing a tick where they would pay young boys to rake that
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around on the ground, spread it out and dry it. then you have to scoop it up for a third time and take it to a whole other building to be sifted but with oliver evans' system you can put raw materials here and get a finished product here so he is the father of automation. pierce mill mostly grounds wheat and corn here but the mill would grind whatever the farmer would bring in, rye, oats, barley, anything they wanted. so when the wheat would come in it has to be dry and clean just like this and then it gets ground into whole wheat flour like this. to get the fine white flour you're used to seeing for baking you have to sift it. that's where the bolter comes in. the bolter separates it out into fine white flour, cereal size bits and bran. back in the day they separated the bran, that's the outside brown part of the seed. they separated that out because they didn't like to eat the bran, they would feed it to the animals. we now know that's the
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healthiest part for you. so i guess you have healthy animals to eat those. there are three types of water wheels used back in the day. currently pierce mill used a breast shot wheel. there's an overshot wheel, a breast shot wheel, and an undershot wheel. the overshot wheel is when you live in a high mountainous area 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 where pierce mill is, some high some low, you can use a breast shot wheel and a dam to diverse the water to have more push. it usually hits about chest high and turns the wheel backwards. if you're west where it's very, very flat, even if you have a dam, you won't get the water very high, you use the undershot wheel where the wheel catches the current of the water to turn the wheel. here we have the mill parts taken apart so you can see the different parts, this is how the
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mill parts look when they're put together for milling. to describe a little bit of them to you, this is the bedstone, this is the bottom stone. it stays stationary there. the top stone over here, this is the runner stone, this is the one that will spin around, you have to use this stone crane here to lift it up and put it on all the weight bounces on that little pin right here, these two bars fit up in the stone so when the outside wheel is going around, this one is going around. you need this stone crane because it weighting the -- the top stone weighed 2,400 pounds. you notice it has grooves cared in here, all these lines. that's on the top of the bedstone, it's also on the underneath of the top runner stone. so as they're spinning around, the grooves are passing each other and cutting the grain like scissors. people frequently think of stone ground flour as stones grinding
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fogt li together like this and crushing the grain. if you do that you get bits of rock in your flour and that's not good for your teeth and you also get a really stinky smell. smells kind of burned, almost like fireworks. so as a miller if i smell that smell i know my stones are touching so i would come over here to this lever and you crank it around a few times and it raises the top stone just a tiny little bit so you get a very fine cut. it's also how you adjust for different fineness. fine white flour is very fine like baby powder versus corn meal is kind of lumpy so this is how you would do that. if anybody has ever heard of this saying "nose to the grindstone" we all think it means working very hard. it actually means more pay attention to what you're doing because as the miller if i smell that smell i know my stones are touching, i don't want that so i would come over here, raise it soup they're not touching, you don't get that stinky smell and your flour tastes much better. here are the mill parts put
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together how they would be for milling. this is the hopper where you dump the grain in. this part here is called the horse, also called the chair because it has four legs? part here is the shoe and it adjusts for how quickly the grain is poured into the eye of the stone. this part here with the bars is called a damsel so when the mill is running that part is spinning around and this shoe is butting up against it to keep a steady flow and you have to adjust it by turning this if you want it faster or slower to pour into the eye of the stone, i learned the hard way you also have to give it a good whack because this is just in here by friction. if you don't give it a good whack the vibration of the mill when it's running will vibrate this out and it will fall on the floor and all of your corn, all 50 pounds, will go wham right in the mill at one time. now we're going to run the mill today. i can tell you a little bit of the differences between how the mill is run today versus how it was run back in the day. back in the day they built a dam
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farther up the creek to divert the water into a channel called a race to bring in water at a higher velocity to increase the power as it got here. that has been filled in since the early '30s so when the park services redid the mill they closed off both ends and put in a recirculating pump that takes the water down in the tail race which is where the water goes back into the creek and puts in the the head race where the water comes in from the creek. so we have to check to make sure everything is in the right place. the damsel is at 90 degrees, my shoe has been whack sod it won't dump all the corn at once and now we will dump some corn.
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okay, now you have to pad the stones. you have to add about three or so pounds down in there so the stones have plenty of corn to work with and they don't rub up against each other. next thing we have to do is raise the topstone. right now it's sitting down on the other stone like a brake on your bike sol we'll raise it up, it will break the friction start moving slightly and then i'd add more water with this great big tentering lever here. when i pull this lever down, it lifts up the gate outside to allow the water to go on the wheel and start running the mill so here we go.
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now we will add some more water. come on. there we go. drop the stone back down a little bit and there we have it. there's 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 down
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stairs. okay, here we see the corn meal is coming out nice and fresh just off the wheel. this is how the miller checks for how finely the grain is ground up, you rub it in your hand. you also check to see how moist it is by clumping it. this is the shaker sifter, it's going to get the bigger pieces to go in the barrel for the chickens and this is the corn meal down here. smell that corn meal. over here you see the main shaft which is a whole entire white oak tree that is cured for about ten years before it's made into a mill shaft. you can see outside where it goes to the outside water wheel so on the outside water wheel is turning, the inside gears are turning, the large face gear turns that gear that turns that gear that turns that gear that turns the mill stone. >> the mill is really important
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to washington and to all of us now because it's this unique relic from the early 197 century, it's a piece of what life was like for people in washington county and the rural parts of this area and there's nothing like in the washington, it gives a real sense of the -- of the day to day type of technology that was used in -- at the time. it's a way of life, it's 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's a sense you can't really get anywhere else and i think it's important for people to
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experience that and see that because it's so different from modern life and it's 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 web site at this weekend on american history tv on c-span 3, saturday morning from 9:00 eastern till just after noon -- >> if the british empire and its commonwealth lasts for a thousand years men will still say this was their finest hour. >> we're live for the 33rd international churchill conference in washington, d.c. focusing on the former british prime minister's friends and contemporaries, speakers include
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british historian andrew roberts, author of "masters and commanders, how four titans won the war in the west, 1941 to 1945." and later on saturday at 7:00, texas general land office commissioner george p. bush, state senator jose menendez and musician phil collins talk about the spanish mission the alamo at the 2016 texas tribune festival in austin. the memories i have of my impressions at that time were that this group of people were going and they knew they were going to die but they went, or they were there, but they kind of -- there was something very noble and very -- you know, romantic, i've learned that it wasn't quite as black and white and that's one of the things i think would be good in this day and age that, you know, we put it into context. >> sunday evening at 6:00 on american artifacts. >> macarthur is up front. you notice he's not wearing a
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weapon. he would lead attacks carrying nothing but that riding crop that you see in his left hand. and the men looked at this and realized hey, if the colonel, and later the brigadier, if the colonel can take it, well, i can take it, too. >> we visit the macarthur memorial in norfolk, virginia, to learn about the early life of douglas macarthur who commanded allied forces in the pacific during world war ii. at 8:00 -- >> the great leaders serve as conscience in chief with the highest level of integrity. with their moral compass locked on true north so that we can count on them to do the right thing when times get tough or no one is looking. >> ar thor talmadge boston explains his 10 commandments for presidential leadership, what they are and provides examples of presidents who excelled at each one. for our complete schedule, go to
11:35 pm each week, american artifacts takes viewers into archives, museums and historic sites around the country. next, senate historian emeritus don richie takes us inside the hart senate office building to learn about its construction and place in congress history. hasht is t hart is the three of the newest office building. >> we are in the hart senate office building which is connected to the dirksen building, they're two halves of the same building. the hart building is a very modern building and we're overlooking the central hearing room known as hart 216. it's in this room where most of the really big hearings take place. this room is specifically designed for television. in fact, we're in one of the television booths right now


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