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Past Events

Lecture on “Hiding in Plain Sight: The Water Mills of Wake County”

when: Nov. 11, 2010

The Joel Lane Museum House is delighted to present a lecture on “Hiding in Plain Sight: The Water Mills of Wake County” by R. Doug Swords at 7 pm on Thursday, November 11 in the Visitors Center. Admission will be $15 for the public and $10 for members of the Joel Lane Historical Society. Refreshments will be served. Seating is limited, and advanced purchase is required. Please call 919-833-3431 with your MasterCard or Visa, or mail a check to P O Box 10884, Raleigh NC 27605. Be sure to include the names of all in your party; nametags will serve as tickets.

Doug is Director of the Grist Mill Location Project and is working in conjunction with the NC Division of Archives and History on the project. Many of the mills’ locations are not revealed to the public in order to protect what remains. He became interested in 19th century (and older) water mill sites as a professional photographer working for the State of NC. His responsibility was to photograph old and possibly historic structures, and during this work he came upon Heartsville Mill Dam, known presently as Mitchell Mill State Park. After completing his computer science degree and moving into the software industry he still searched for these old sites. It was his plan to locate and map as many as possible. His career kept him out of the country most of the time, and it was only in 2007 that he was able to return to this project. Doug was alarmed at how many of the standing mills had been destroyed by floods in the interim so his object then was to locate and photograph as many remaining sites as possible, with his son as the photographer and his partner. To date they have located more than 60 sites, but there are probably in excess of 100 still to be found. He is currently a member of the International Molinological Society and has contributed to their library of information as well as published papers in their journal. He has created a modern map of the located mill sites in Wake County that is currently on display at the Olivia Rainey Local History Library.

The presentation goes into the methods used to locate these sites, presents photographs of several of them, and delves very slightly into milling. Doug shows the location of the sites on the 1870 Fendol Bevers Map and the same locations on a modern map. He will show the differences in mill dam construction and discuss how we can determine when a dam was built (to some degree). It is amazing to see what is lying out in the open, sometimes in people’s back yards, and to realize that some of the original mechanisms of these mills have been lying in the same place for nearly 200 years. To see a photo, click here: Water Mills of Wake County

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What visitors say

Thank you for guiding us through the Joel Lane House. It was very interesting and fun. There was a door in the kitchen. What was it for? I wish we had more time. Thank you once again.