What is the Dam Thing, Anyway?
We’ve been talking about our dam quite a lot. You’re reading The Dam Blog. Maybe you have even donated to help save the dam. It occurred to us that we should probably explain why the dam is so important!
When mills are water-powered, they need a reserve of water in order to operate. The dam backs up water from the Chester Creek to store potential energy for the mill and is the start of what is called the water-system of the mill. The Newlin Grist Mill is one of the few colonial mills that still operates using its original water-system. This map provides an overview of our entire water-system and all of its parts, all of which are essential to the operation of the mill.
A few quick notes to elaborate on the map:
The earthen part of the dam is the large hillside next to it. When you stand on top of the hill, you are actually standing on the dam.
The control gates are very important because they allow for control of the water entering the mill. It is why mills used a sometimes complex water-system instead of just placing the waterwheel into the creek. With a headrace you control how much water is coming to the mill at any given time.
The water in the headrace flows to what is called a spillway gate. At Newlin Grist Mill the trout ponds are actually the mill’s spillway. The waterfall by our front parking lot is all of the excess water from the headrace.
So you can see…it all starts with the dam and everything is connected together.