Bale Grist Mill State Historic Park

I‘m really behind with my photo editing. Can you tell? I’ve been inundated with work and the challenge of raising a rambunctious toddler. So, here’s another set from our stay in Sonoma (and there’s still more!). šŸ™‚ This was our very last stop before heading home was the Bale Grist Mill, which is nestled in between St. Helena and Calistoga in Sonoma County.

We arrived late in the afternoon, perhaps around 4:30 PM, and caught the last tour of the day.

This water-powered mill was built in 1846, and helped the residents of the area ground wheat and corn into flour. The mill is still fully functional, and you can even buy various types of flour (e.g. wheat, spelt) made there for a small donation.

The wheel is 36 feet tall. It was mesmerizing to watch.

More about the mill from its official site, since I think it does a fine of explaining its history:

“The gristmill and granary were built with local materials, Douglas firs and coast redwoods. Some timbers were cut to length with the bark left on, while others were roughed out with hand tools. The timbers were notched and held in place with wooden pegs as well as nails and screws.”

“The foundation of the structure is native stone. The mill was powered by a waterwheel, with water diverted from Mill Creek nearby. A ditch carried the water from a millpond to a wooden flume, which brought the water to the top of the waterwheel.”

“The first wheel did not provide enough power during dry summers and was replaced by a larger one, similar to the one at the mill today.”

“Farmers brought grain to the mill where it was placed into the boot of an elevator to be mechanically transported upstairs where it was cleaned by various types of equipment. The slow turning of the old grind stones and the dampness of the mill’s site gave the meal a special quality for making cornbread, yellowbread, shortening bread and spoon bread.”

“The owner of the mill was Dr. Edward Turner Bale. He received the property in a land grant from the Mexican government and lived near the site until his death in 1849. The mill remained in use until the early 1900s.”

I’d love to return here when Ronan is older and can appreciate historical sites. As such, I’d recommend this outing for families with older children, or for fellow history buffs. šŸ™‚

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