A gristmill is a mill for the grinding of grain, specifically a customer’s own grain. Grist mills were a common site in colonial America, but there are few such mills still in operation today. Pierce Mill a Rock Creek Park in DC is open to the public but is non-operational. The mill needs repairs.
But George Washington’s Gristmill in Mount Vernon Virginia is fully operational and is a sight to see! The mill operates every day from April until the end of October. The gristmill is three miles south of Mount Vernon on the site of Washington’s original mill and distillery. Combination tickets which include a visit to the Gristmill are sold at Mount Vernon’s Main Gate.
George Washington inherited Mount Vernon in 1754 and the mill was part of the estate. At that time, the gristmill was a “custom mill”, meaning that grain was ground here for private usage. Grain was not ground for sale. Rather, neighbors and residents of Mount Vernon used the mill almost exclusively.
Washington decided to convert the custom mill into a “merchant mill”. A merchant mill ground flour and cornmeal as a service for profit. In 1771, Washington added a second pair of grinding stones. Washington’s Gristmill served Mount Vernon but it also ground grain for sale up and down the East Coast of America and as far away as Portugal and the West Indies. The current reconstruction depicts the operation of the mill during this period.
As in Washington’s day, the mill was powered by a stream of water from Dogue Run. In those days, a wharf at the point where Dogue Run enters the Potomac served to bring grain to and from the mill.
Mount Vernon is a wonderful community about 5 miles from Washington DC. From Fort Hunt to Fort Belvoir there are manor homes, houses, townhouses and condos to fit any budget or style. Check out Fort Hunt Info for a little more information about this area.
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