STONE MILL

In New England, autumn has traditionally been the season when the wheat harvest is brought in for grinding. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History.

We’re at an eighteenth century mill where whole wheat grain is still being ground into flour between two rough hewed stones turned by the force of water.

“Before you have your mill running, you have to set up a mill pond.”

John Pizzola is the Apprentice Miller at Philipsburg Manor in Tarrytown, NY.

“The water from the mill pond is channeled through a flume — it’s almost like a box that runs runs from the millpond, up to the water wheel. And at the end of the flume, there’s a gate. And this prevents the water from striking the wheel. And the water will only engage the wheel when the gate is raised. Now once the water engages the wheel, naturally the wheel starts to turn. The wheel starts to rotate a shaft and in this case, the shaft is nine thousand pounds of solid white oak. The shaft is linked to two sets of wooden gears. Those wooden gears are linked to the spindle, which is protruding through the bottom stone.”

Driven by the force of the gears, the spindle, a wooden rod which supports the two round grinding stones, turns. And once the spindle starts turning, the top stone, called the runner stone, begins to rotate.

“And as the runner stone is rotating, the grain is fed in between the two stones where it’s ground down and comes out in the form of flour or meal, depending on what type of grain you’re grinding…If you look over here, you’ll notice that the top stone will rest on the spindle, ok, so the two stones will never touch. And that’s good because the wheat’s very combustible and the slightest spark, boom. It will ignite and there goes your mill.”

Pulse of the Planet is presented by the American Museum of Natural History. Additional funding for this series has been provided by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

STONE MILL

An apprentice miller takes us on a tour of an eighteenth century grain mill.
Air Date:10/09/1998
Scientist:
Transcript:

In New England, autumn has traditionally been the season when the wheat harvest is brought in for grinding. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History.

We're at an eighteenth century mill where whole wheat grain is still being ground into flour between two rough hewed stones turned by the force of water.

"Before you have your mill running, you have to set up a mill pond."

John Pizzola is the Apprentice Miller at Philipsburg Manor in Tarrytown, NY.

"The water from the mill pond is channeled through a flume -- it's almost like a box that runs runs from the millpond, up to the water wheel. And at the end of the flume, there's a gate. And this prevents the water from striking the wheel. And the water will only engage the wheel when the gate is raised. Now once the water engages the wheel, naturally the wheel starts to turn. The wheel starts to rotate a shaft and in this case, the shaft is nine thousand pounds of solid white oak. The shaft is linked to two sets of wooden gears. Those wooden gears are linked to the spindle, which is protruding through the bottom stone."

Driven by the force of the gears, the spindle, a wooden rod which supports the two round grinding stones, turns. And once the spindle starts turning, the top stone, called the runner stone, begins to rotate.

"And as the runner stone is rotating, the grain is fed in between the two stones where it's ground down and comes out in the form of flour or meal, depending on what type of grain you're grinding...If you look over here, you'll notice that the top stone will rest on the spindle, ok, so the two stones will never touch. And that's good because the wheat's very combustible and the slightest spark, boom. It will ignite and there goes your mill."

Pulse of the Planet is presented by the American Museum of Natural History. Additional funding for this series has been provided by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.