Bus Tour: Historic Mills of Eastern Pennsylvania


Ever wonder how an early grist mill actually operated, and how grain was ground into meal or flour?  Join this tour and discover what happens inside functioning water-powered mills.

From the Hagey Bus terminal, we’ll start our day by driving past a couple of early mill buildings in the Franconia-Lower Salford area.  These mills, which haven’t operated for many years, include Funk’s Mill on the Indian Creek, dating from about 1725, and the Landes-Nice-Long Mill on the Branch Creek, dating from the 1730s.  After just a bit of local touring, and some historical background, we’ll travel further afield for the real purpose of the day — to visit several operating water-powered grist mills.

Evans-Mumbower Mill1Our first stop will be at the Evans-Mumbower Mill along the Wissahickon Creek near North Wales, in the Gwynedd Valley.  First established in about 1745 as a saw and fulling mill, the present structures dates to the early 1800s.  The mill was operated by the Mumbower family from 1858 to about 1930, when it closed.  Now owned by the Wissahickon Valley Watershed Association (WVWA), the mill has been under continuing restoration for the past 28 years, and its water power was restored in 2012.  The WVWA now has occasional open-houses in the spring and summer months, and offer group tours by special arrangement.

Heading further south into Delaware County before our next mill visit, our lunch stop will be at Ruby’s Diner (a “throwback diner serving American fare”) in Glen Mills.  On your own, a nice lunch here (with drink) is in the $15 range.

Newlin Grist Mill1Directly after lunch, we’ll head to the nearby Newlin Grist Mill.  First built in 1704, the water-powered mill is preserved and operated by the Nicholas Newlin Foundation.  We’ll have a guided tour with one of the millers.  The site is now a 160 acre park that includes the mill, dam & race, miller’s house, barn, blacksmith shop, and visitor’s center.  Our tour will include a demonstration of the milling operations, the blacksmith shop and the visitor’s center.

Our final stop for the day will be at the Mill at Anselma, located on the Pickering Creek near Chester Springs, Chester County.  Built in about 1747 by Samuel Lightfoot, a Quaker landholder in Pikeland Township, the Mill stands as an authentic example of a custom water-powered grist mill, and is now a designated National Historic Landmark.  Our visit will include a guided tour of the functioning mill and a stop in the gift shop, where stone-ground flour and corn-meal from the mill is available.  The Mill also hosts a local farmer’s market on Wednesdays through the end of October, so we’ll be able to see that as well. Joel Alderfer will serve as tour leader.

Anselma Mill2The tour fee of $85 ($80 member) includes admission to the three operating mills, bus service and gratuity for the driver.  Lunch is on your own at Ruby’s Diner.   Tour participants should be prepared to do a fair amount of walking and climb some steps if you wish to see all mill operations. You will board the Hagey coach at 8:30 am on Wednesday, October 21 at the Hagey Transportation Center, 210 Schoolhouse Road, Souderton (located 1 ½ miles east of Rt. 113).  The bus will depart  at 8.45 A.M.  The tour will return to the Hagey Center about 6:15 P.M.  Your vehicles may remain parked at Hagey’s fenced parking lot.  Deadline for registration is October 15.  The fee is not refundable, but it is transferable.