Enfield Glen – Old Mill

Home  /  Locations  /  Finger Lakes  /  Current Page

121-125 Upper Park Rd
Newfield, NY 14867
Get Directions →


This site contains several signs within. Here are a select few:

1: The Old Mill (Built in 1839)
Mills like this one played a key role in the economic growth of 19th Century rural communities such as the hamlet of Enfield Falls, which now lies buried beneath this park. At the back of the first floor of the Old Mill are exhibits describing the archaeological excavations of this buried hamlet.

2: The Grist Mill as a Part of Robert H. Treman State Park
On August 31, 1916, Robert and Laura Treman purchased this grist mill, which Robert Treman’s great uncle had built about 77 years earlier.

In 1920, they donated 387 acres, including the mill, to the State of New York, to become Enfield Glen Reservation.

In the 1920’s the mill was restored and converted to a pavilion. Rest rooms, porches, a wider staircase and the fireplace were added. After Robert H. Treman’s death in 1938, the park was renamed in his honor.

7: Who Worked in the Mill
Jared Treman was the first owner and head-miller of this Grist Mill. In 1850, he employed two men. This mill did not require many workers because it was relatively small, grinding only for the local community. Furthermore, most of the machinery in the mill ran off water power, so that not much manual labor was needed.

The headmiller was the superintendent of the mill. He needed a great deal of skill and knowledge in order to insure proper functioning of the machinery, regulate the flow of water to the turbine for maximum efficiency, dress the millstones, make repairs in case no millwright was available, grind high quality flour, and keep accurate records. The second in command acted as headmiller in the headmiller’s absence. In this mill, he and the other assistant probably kept machinery oiled, packed flour, and performed other necessary tasks.

apparatus - enfield falls mill


Various signs around the property were erected at various times from 1920 onward.

What was there

Historical Background (sign) 
Throughout the nineteenth century, the town of Enfield was primarily an agricultural settlement. In 1864, for example, eighty percent of the town’s land was devoted to agriculture. Within this rural setting, farmers traveled to the hamlet of Enfield Falls for supplies, to sell their products, and to take advantage of its mills.

The first building in Enfield Falls was a sawmill erected in 1812 by Benjamin Ferris. In 1817 Isaac Rumsey built the town’s first gristmill to grind the grain of local farmers. The water that powered the mills came from Five Mill Creek, also known as Enfield Creek. The first gristmill burned down in the 1830s, but Jared Treman replaced it with another gristmill that operated from 1839 to the end of the nineteenth century. Jared Treman’s mill is listed on the National Register and the State Register of Historic Places and serves as the Park’s Mill Museum.

By 1866, Enfield Falls consisted of the sawmill, the gristmill, several homes, a general store, a blacksmith shop, shoemaker, a cooper, and a tannery. The Enfield Falls Hotel was also located here. The hotel provided meals and rooms for tourists eager to visit the Five Mill Creek’s beautiful gorge and Lucifer Falls. After the Civil War, various tourist guides featured the hotel.

In the early twentieth century, Robert Treman became interested in the scenic qualities of Enfield Falls. Treman began buying up property within the hamlet, including his purchase of the old gristmill built by his uncle Jared Treman. Once most of the property of Enfield Falls was acquired, Robert and Laura Treman donated 387 acres to the State of New York in order to establish the Enfield Glen Reservation. The hamlet of Enfield Falls was slowly transformed into an attractive state park first by State Park employees in the 1920s and then by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. Most of the nineteenth century buildings were removed. Only the grist mill and the miller’s cottage were kept as reminders of the site’s former history.

door pull - enfield glen mill

What is there now

A sign at the mill explains:
The rural hamlet of Enfield Falls no longer exists. However, house foundations, wells, roads, and even garbage pits lie buried one or two feet below the present ground level of Robert H. Treman State Park.

Three years of archaeological work at the Park has revealed a rich history. In addition to the physical evidence of buildings and artifacts, some of the former residents of Enfield Falls or their descendants enthusiastically shared their family histories with the archaeologists.

Robert H. Treman State Park is a 1,110-acre multi-use park, open to the public year-round, and features 12 waterfalls along Enfield Creek.

Learn more about Robert H Treman State Park.

falls in autumn - enfield glen mill

More information

More Signs from within the mill:

Processing Wheat
In Brief
As you explore the mill, you will find additional signs with more details about the various aspects of the mill. You may find it helpful to keep this summary in mind:

The miller weighed the ground here on the first floor. He then sent it to the third floor for cleaning. Back on this floor, millstones ground grain into meal. Next, on the second floor, bolting reels separated meal into its components: flour, middlings, and waste. Middlings were further cleaned. Here on the first floor again, middlings were reground. On the second floor, middlings were rebolted. Finally a mill worker packed flour into sacks on his floor. 

The New Process
This mill mostly ground wheat, although it also ground buckwheat and corn. The following is a simplified explanation of the mill’s processing system.

Sometime after 1870, the headmiller of this mill converted it to the New Process system of grinding wheat. With this system, the miller could produce whiter flour than ever before. Whiter flour brought a higher price because people preferred it—they thought it more attractive and healthier than darker flours.

Under the New Process, wheat was ground twice. For the first grind, the miller kept the millstones relatively far apart in order to produce as many middlings (unground endosperm of wheat) as possible. After being separated from the rest of the meal and cleaned, the middlings were reground on another set of millstones. The miller kept these millstones close together in order to produce as much flour as possible.

Both the first and second grinds produced flour, but the flour from the second, or middlings, grind was the highest quality. It was called “patent flour.”

The New Process did not require much manual labor. Water gushing though the turbine just outside the mill provided the power to run all the machinery. Belts and chains transmitted this power from the main shaft to individual machines. Pulleys for belts and gears for chains are visable throughout the mill.

How Much Flour Did This Mill Produce?
This mill processed large quantities of grain. In the late 19th century, the miller could expect to grind one barrel, (196 pounds) of high-quality flour from every 5 bushels, (32 quarts) of wheat a farmer brought him.

The miller’s total yield depended largely on the success of the local farmers’ crops. The yield also depended on the cleanliness of the grain. Cleaner grain produced more flour. This is one reason why the miller cleaned grist several ways during the milling process.

An 1850 publication, “Products of Industry,” lists statistics about production in Jared Treman’s mill. The average was 22,000 bushels of grain per year. This would have made his annual yield about 4,400 barrels, or 862,400 pounds of high-quality flour. The milling was worth $18,000.

An excerpt from Ithaca and its Resources, by D. Morris reads:

At the foot of the hill is the “Enfield Falls Hotel,” but you look around in vain for the falls or even any sign of them. Upon the side of the stable into which our horses are driven is nailed a small board, on which is painted, “Admission to the Falls, 10 cents,” and in reply to our inquiry the bright little urchin that takes charge of the team says, “Down there they are,” pointing to the rocky wall which apparently forms an eastern and insurmountable boundary to the valley. And to “down there” we proceed…

3: Weighing and Tolling the Grist

When farmers brought grain to the mill, they placed it on the scale [behind you]. After the grain was weighed, and elevator carried it to the third floor for cleaning.

This scale once had a large hopper over the rectangular base you see on the floor. The miller poured the grain into the hopper, causing the hopper to sink. The base was connected to the balance underneath the floor.

The farmers did not usually pay cash for the miller’s services. Instead, the miller kept a percentage of the grain as a toll. The toll was set by law, but was usually about 10%. Because of this payment method, the miller had to weigh the grain accurately if he wanted to maintain his business and good reputation.

Dressing Millstones
The miller depended on the dress, or pattern of grooves, cut into his millstones to efficiently produce high quality flour. He had to re-cut, or dress, the grooves periodically because the stones’ grinding surfaces wore down as they ground grain.

First, the miller took the stones out of gear so he could dress them while the rest of the mill kept running. Next he removed the millstone case. Then he used a crane to lift and flip the top, or runner, stone.

The miller sat on the stone’s grinding surface and chipped away at it with hand-held steel tools called mill bills. On average, the miller spent 28 hours dressing one pair of stones.

You can see a dressed millstone outside the basement, under the porch.

Farming in Enfield
Today we think of the Midwest as America’s wheat belt, but in the early 19th century, the wheat belt was here in western New York. Wheat was the largest source of income for farmers in this region.

By the late 19th century, however, wheat farming was in decline. Wheat was suffering from disease, and crops had depleted the soil, so the wheat belt was moved further west. Farmers in this region turned to dairying, and growing fruit and other crops still grown here today.

Preparing Wheat for the Mill
After the farmer harvested his wheat, he threshed it. Threshing is the process of removing the head of the wheat (grain) from the stalk (straw). In the 19th century, farmers used a stick-like tool called a flail to thresh their grain.

porch seating - enfield glen mill


Submitted by

We would like to thank the following for helping us with this entry:
Matt Conheady and Kelly Lucero


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.