Scenic USA - Virginia

Wade's Flour Mill

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Wade's Flour Mill - Raphine, Virginia

Photos by Ben Prepelka
Scenic USA Artist Website

     Often the anchor for a new community, water powered saw mills and grist mills Wades Mill - Raphine, Virginia were one of the key elements for America's initial industrialization. Mills were so important that communities would offer various incentives for millers and sawyers, which may have included free land, mill sites, tax exemptions, and some even escaped military duty.
     Becoming the heart of an 18th and 19th century village, nearby residents would gathered at the mill to wait their turn to have grain ground for breads, pone and Wades Mill Sign - Raphine, Virginia grits. Even after the miller turned their corn into meal, families would linger to catch up on the latest news and gossip from other community residents. During holidays and festivals, the mill became the gathering place. The wooden floor was cleared of clutter. Those with the gift of music provided the entertainment and callers would cue the square dancing partners on what was next in the dance sequence.
     Today, thousands of these historic mills can be found in America, some in nearly every state. Some in various states of disrepair, others on hold for restoration, and some fully functional with original equipment and century old millstones. Here in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley, Wade's Mill is a fine example of an 18th century working flour mill. Built in 1750 by one of the valley's earliest settlers, Captain Joseph Kennedy. This was at a time when the Millrace and bypass - Wades Mill, Raphine, Virginia Shenandoah Valley was on the frontier of the American colonies. While the Kennedy family continued operations at mill for another 100 years, James F. Wade stepped in and bought the flour mill in 1882. Fed by a nearby stream, the 21-foot over-shot wheel powers all the mill equipment, including the heavy mill stones. The Wade family worked the mill for the next four generations and today the historic mill remains just as it was over a century ago.
     Seasonally open from April to mid-December, the historic mill invites the public to come by and see this piece of Valley history. Near the I-85 corridor in Raphine, the mill offers a variety of stone ground products, including flours, grits, polenta, buckwheat and mixes. Welcoming all visitors to the mill, all are invited to come in and mill around.

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