Work Under Way to Improve Access to Mill

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Turn the Mill Around Campaign (TTMAC) is proud to announce that work to improve access to the historic Chapman – Beverley Mill in Broad Run has begun. Following several years of planning and fundraising, the first phase of TTMAC’s accessibility master plan commenced on September 1 with the arrival of construction equipment that will lay down a new bus turnaround and parking area at the Mill site.

TTMAC received the Chapman – Beverley Mill – an historic 1742 grist mill on the border between Fauquier and Prince William Counties – and its associated property shortly after a 1998 arson that nearly destroyed the structure. Since that time, the mission of the campaign has been to both preserve the Mill ruins and make the site accessible to the public. Work to stabilize the Mill was successfully completed in the mid-2000’s enabling TTMAC to safely open the site to the public during weekends. The campaign anticipates that the project currently under way will significantly improve visitor experience at the Mill.

“We’re especially excited about the bus turnaround,” noted Executive Director Frances Allshouse. “When the work is complete, we will be able to accommodate school field trips and bus tour groups that simply would not have been able to get to the Mill otherwise.” The completed project will also boast 15 new parking places and a handicapped / van accessible parking area. “In the coming months, we look forward to being able to share the Mill with even more visitors thanks to the new parking and bus area,” Allshouse continued.

While construction is under way, the site will remain closed to the public. Work is expected to conclude in October.

For more information visit chapmansmill.org or contact Frances Allshouse at 540-253-5888 or by email at chapmanmill@gmail.com.

More than History

Part of the Mill Race circa 2005.

Part of the Mill Race circa 2005.

When we think about the Mill, most of us think about its history.  But there is so much more to the site.  In 1979, Jim Pickens, a landscape architect, offered the following information about the mill site’s topography, geology, hydrology and other aspects of the site.

TOPOGRAPHY

The topography in the areas surrounding the mill is varied….It is located approximately 400 feet above mean sea level and shares a stream valley with Broad Run. The slopes surrounding the mill are gentle and range from three to five percent slope. To the north of the mill the slopes increase fro fifteen to twenty-five percent.

GEOLOGY

Rock formations found in this area are typical of those found in most of this part of Piedmont Virginia. They consist of Weverton, a fine grained white, to light gray fine grained, to massive thin-bedded Quartzite. Virginia Bluestone is found mixed with the quartzite. All strata of rock in this area tend to tilt slightly toward the east. Bed rock ranges from 2 to 7 feet below ground surface, and outcrops can be found in many places.

HYDROLOGY

Drainage patterns in the general area of the mill are of the Course-Grained type. The main or first order stream is Broad Run. This stream has a shallow but wide channel. Broad Run is fed by many second order streams, which are developed from springs and groundwater runoff from the nearby Bull Run Mountains. Flooding occurs many times during the year, but water quickly recedes within hours. Drought or low-water periods may occur during extremely dry periods in summer and fall.

SOILS

Found on the site are many kinds of soils. The parent material of this soil developed during the Cambrian Era. Most of the soil around the mill is alluvial and was deposited by Broad Run during periods of high water. This particular type of deposited soil is known as Congaree Fine Sandy Loam. Other soils which comprise the soil horizon are: Wehaoekee Loam, Meadowville Silt Loam and Manor Very Flaggy Silt Loam. Congaree Fine Sandy Loam and Wehaokee Silt Loam are found primarily near the stream. Meadowville Silt Loam and Manor Flaggy Silt Loam are found on steeper slopes.

VEGITATION

Hardwoods are the primary vegetation type found on the mill site. Hickory, walnut, locust and sycamore are found on the site, but some of these trees were planted and did not originate on the site.
Now a lawn area surrounds the mill building with honeysuckle, briars and other woody vegetation. There is little if any evergreen vegetation surrounding the mill site.

SUMMARY

The location of the Beverly Mill is logical for many reasons. The success of a mill of this type depends on several main elements: a site that is accessible to a water source for power, a source of material for building and a transportation route to carry goods to and from the mill. The Beverly Mill site supplies all of these needs.

HISTORIC LANDSCAPE FEATURES

Other vegetation found on and around the miller’s house on the property are daylilies probably once cultivated but have since gone wild. Purple and white Vinca Minor, a low-growing shrub also known as periwinkle. This plant persists for decades around old home-sites and in gardens and cemeteries. It is hence given the nick-name—“Graveyard Grass.”

Mills Need Friends Too!

Courtesy Jonathan Hill

Calling all history lovers, preservationists, admirers of unique architecture, archaeologists, old mill enthusiasts, educators and anyone who loves scenic, outdoor spaces!

We’re looking for Friends of the Mill!

In our continuing efforts to find new ways to spread the word about the Mill and its history, Turn the Mill Around Campaign is seeking out individuals interested in forming a ‘Friends of the Mill’ organization. The Friends would be independently incorporated and could take an active role in numerous aspects of Mill site operations including but in no way limited to community outreach, site maintenance, fundraising, coordinating with school and youth groups to offer tours and activities, and promoting the site to photographers, filmographers and other artists.

Interested in finding out more?  The first meeting to discuss this new group will take place Saturday, July 23 at 1PM at the Mill office (4250 Loudoun Ave. The Plains, VA 20198).  Contact Frances Allshouse at chapmanmill@gmail.com for details.

Where Did All the Flour Go?

Corn Meal Bag

By the early 19th century, the Mill was a major producer of ground corn and wheat in Northern Virginia.  Interestingly, it’s likely that some of the meal being produced at Chapman’s Mill found its way to the Caribbean and Europe.  Read more in this excerpt from Beverley (Chapman’s) Mill, Thoroughfare Gap, Virginia by Frances Lillian Jones.

Portugal was a large importer of Northern Virginia corn, wheat, and flour from 1801 to 1815. Spain also imported much wheat and corn during this period. England received substantial amounts of wheat from Alexandria, prior to the enactment of the Corn Laws. The West Indies, however, received the major portion of flour exported from Alexandria. Domestic trade with northern states along the east coast of the United States may have equaled or exceeded Alexandria’s foreign trade during Ante-bellum days. Grain and flour from Alexandria was traded at Washington, Richmond and Norfolk, and small amounts went to Charleston, Savannah and New Orleans.

The demand for grain and flour abroad reached an all-time high between 1800 and 1840. It is presumed that a portion of the flour that was shipped abroad, primarily to the West Indies, Spain and Portugal, was ground at the Chapman Mill.

Finding Meaning in Pipe Stems

Archaeology volunteer, Paul Antsen, using a quarter inch mesh to find artifacts.

Archaeology volunteer, Paul Antsen, using a quarter inch mesh to find artifacts.

With the Chapman – Beverley Mill’s crew of archaeologists back in the field, there are all sorts of interesting things being unearthed at the site.  Several buttons and bone fragments have already been uncovered and we’re only on level two!  One of today’s finds was a pipe stem.  In the lab, the pipe stem will be catalogued and analyzed and may even be useful in determining the date of the site.  How?  Here’s an excerpt from the National Parks Service:

Pipe stem dating
The clay pipe industry expanded rapidly as tobacco smoking gained popularity in both England and America. Historical archeologists excavating English colonial sites often find pieces of white clay smoking pipes on their sites. In the 1950s J. C. Harrington studied the thousands of pipe stems excavated at Jamestown and other colonial Virginia sites, noticing a definite relationship between the diameter of the pipe stem bore—or hole—and the age of the pipe of which it had been part. The earliest pipes, dating to about 1600, had stems with 9/64-inch diameter bores. By 1800 this diameter had decreased to 4/64 of an inch. This change in diameter may have occurred because pipe stems became longer through time, requiring a smaller bore. Louis Binford later devised a mathematical formula to refine Harrington’s method (Deetz 1996:27). This dating technique only applies to pipe stems manufactured in England between approximately 1590 and 1800.

Find out more and test your skills at analyzing pipe stem findings HERE.

Legends of Thoroughfare Gap

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Have you ever wondered how some of the areas around Thoroughfare Gap got their names?  Here’s one legend according to Beverley (Chapman’s) Mill, Thoroughfare Gap, Virginia by Frances Lillian Jones

According to tradition, George Washington surveyed the land at Thoroughfare Gap in 1748-49, at the request of the Northern Neck Proprietor, Thomas Lord Fairfax.  Washington supposedly measured the heights of the Bull Run Mountains on the north and south of Thoroughfare Gap and named them, Pond Mountain, on the south side of the gap, he supposedly named after the large fishing pond formed by the damming of Broad Run.  Prior to that naming, Pond Mountain was called South Mountain, and before that it was known as “Broken Hills.”  Washington named the mountain on the north side of the gap Leathercoat Mountain, after “Mother Leathercoat,” a woman who, according to legend, operated an inn at the foot of this mountain and always wore a leather apron or overcoat.

Become a Gatekeeper!

Be a Friend of the Mill!  Become a Gatekeeper!

Be a Friend of the Mill! Become a Gatekeeper!

Ever wonder who the wonderful folks are who make sure the Mill is open to the public every weekend all year long?  Well the answer could be you!

After many years of great service, the Mill’s former volunteer gatekeeper recently retired from his post, so we’re now looking for a crew of volunteers to take on his duties.

The job is simple, just open the gates at 9AM and close them again at 5PM on Saturdays and Sundays.  What a great way to start and end your day!  And since we’re looking to gather a group of three or four individuals, each volunteer will only have gate duty one or two weekends per month.

There are some great benefits too!  All our gatekeepers will receive:

  • Access to the Mill property during off hours
  • Early notice of upcoming events
  • Free use of Mill site for photography
  • Free mill tee shirt
  • Discount at ShopChapmansMill.Org
  • Free adoption of one of the Mill’s stones at the end of first year of service

Interested in joining the team?  Contact Frances Allshouse at chapmanmill@gmail.com or by phone at 540-253-5888.