the all-seeingeye Mill Creek State Park, Michigan

Reconstruction of the millwright's house.

The mill's two wheels. On the left is the flutter wheel powering the saw frame. On the right is a tub wheel that powers the carriage for its return to the start position.

The mill and mill race from the dam.

Mill building from downstream.

Carriage advance cogwheel.

Carriage and saw frame.

Carriage advance rack-and-pinion.

Carriage and saw frame.

Workshop with a nice treadle lathe.

Shaving horses.

Trails along the creek.

Trails along the creek.

July 2007

I have a fondness for early industrial archaeology. There is something appealingly clever about the folks who start with very simple principles and raw materials and develop machinery and systems to mass produce finished items.

Mill Creek has one of the finest historical recreations I know of. Many interpretive sites have nothing but static displays of non-working technology. This one works. They cut boards with it. They can demonstrate the vast advantage even a small mill has over pit sawing-which they also demonstrate. And it is a wonderful experience. A static display can not give you the the sound and vibration this thing makes when it's powered up.

The creek itself is quite small. When we were here a decade ago, it was dammed in several places by beavers, which we managed to catch sight of even though it was dayltime. The dams and lodges are now abandoned. A sign suggests that a harsh winter or predators may have driven them out. It failed to mention the possibility that the park's success may have been the reason.