Stony Brook Grist Mill
While we all had a blast at the Avalon Park and Preserve and at Mill Pond in Stony Brook this weekend, there was much more to do in the area. We didn’t have time to go to the Art and Carriage House Museums, but we went on a tour of the Stony Brook Grist Mill in the afternoon. This is the oldest working Grist Mill on Long Island. There are only a handful of functioning Grist Mills in New York; the others are upstate. I’ve run home from this location before, so this quest is quite local for us.
In the 17th Century, Richard Smith passed on some property to his grandson Adam, with the expectation that Adam would build a Grist Mill on the premises. In 1699, the mill was completed and as part of this construction the Mill Pond was created just on the border with the current Town of Brookhaven and Smithtown (which at the time was called “Smithfield”).
Our tour guide explained to us that each bucket in the wheel below held 150 lbs. of water. This doesn’t stay on all the time anymore, just during hours of operation. It’s truly amazing how structures built several hundred years ago can stand the test of time!
Mia, 2: “Water on the wheel and then water go down the wheel! That’s the end….”
Brandon, 10: “The guide said that before you could grind off the corn kernels, you would dry out the corn cob and they would put it through the corn sheller and use the empty cob to make chess and checker pieces and to make dolls. He also said a long time ago people would use it for same as toilet paper!!!!”
In it’s heyday, the Grist Mill was the ‘Grand Central Station’ of the area. Townspeople came to the mill and talked about their families, news and discussed gossip from their local towns (some things stay the same) as they waited for the miller to grind their grain.
As recently as the mid 20th Century, farmers still brought their wheat and corn to be ground at the mill. The natural wheat produced here was shipped to over 80% of the states.
Jay, (age not important): “There was a spooky spider web in the corner of the old equipment”. The spider was defeated by Frodo Baggins in ‘Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King’ in 2003.”
Sofia, 7: “The man that works at the Grist Mill told me to stand on this scale. It weighs us and it is old fashioned. I don’t remember how much he said I weighed the other day but he said it is old so it adds 15 pounds to what I weigh.”
Brandon, 10: “When we were on our guided tour around the Grist Mill we saw a Herring Gull wait for fish to come down the water stop. The guide said that the bird snacks on the fish all day long and doesn’t leave the spot each day!”
Alana, 5: “There is this bird and he eats the fish when the fish come down the waterfall. He eats it every single day all day like a snack. The water comes from the pond on the other side of the street with the fishies and the geese and the swans.”
It is great to see the kids (and big people) learn about how the mill was grinding grain into flour all those years ago, and to get a sense of for important bread was to the people from our area’s history for so long. Corn, wheat and barley were brought across the Long Island Sound on boats and after being milled would be delivered back to Connecticut – no Port Jeff Ferries back then 🙂
Consider visiting the Stony Brook Grist Mill one weekend and enjoy a taste of culture and Long Island living from a long time ago!
There are small toys and gifts inside the mill house. Also, honey sticks that the kids will want ($2).
Admission and Hours: Entrance Fee, which includes a personal tour, is $2 for adults, $1 per child over 2 years of age.
Open Saturday and Sunday – 12:00pm – 4:30pm
LIE East to exit 62 North. Take Nichols Road North approx 10 miles to 25A. Make left, pass the train station on your Left and continue 1 mile. Make a Right to continue on 25A and you will soon see Mill Pond on your Left. Turn onto Harbor Road or do a U-Turn and park in a spot in front of the pond.
For high resolution versions of these photos and additional pics of the Stony Brook Grist Mill, please follow this link to the associated photo set on Flickr:
And don’t forget to add comments about what you like at the Stony Brook Grist Mill; my kids are excited to see if you like this quest!
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