Found Friday #7: The Old Mill

In case you missed last week’s post, I talked about how my house sits along a mill race. The race is small and narrow, and if you didn’t know any better, you’d think it was only a creek. The mill, on the other hand, is a bit more…striking. Noticeable? Big. It is big.

You can’t miss it. Though you might not realize, if you’re just driving by, that it still operates today. It’s actually part of NOVA Parks, and you can take a tour, rent the space for events, and watch Mike the Miller at work. The mill also hosts historic reenactments and other educational events, as well as the occasional farm-to-table dinner.

Before we even moved into our house, when we were still under contract and stressing about it, I did a bit of reading on the mill. We’d driven by it several times, but we’d never taken an opportunity to learn more. What better way to distract myself, I thought, than to do some research. (I was an academic kid, and I never grew out of it.) I came across this article, which I won’t rehash but will encourage you to read, that tells the mill’s story: https://www.loudounhistory.org/history/aldie-mill/. It’s a good story. My favorite bit (if it gets you interested) has to do with Civil War soldiers hiding themselves in the wheat from John Mosby and his rangers. (See? You want to read about it now, don’t you?)

Anyway, I know I talk a lot about how lucky I feel to live in an area with such a long and rich history, and I probably sound like a broken record. But I think it’s important to understand that history is alive.

And this mill is a living piece of Loudoun County’s history.

Found Friday #6: It’s not just a creek!

Back in 2016, when we were neck-deep in our search for a historic home and pretty stressed about it, I had a dream. I dreamed about an old farmhouse with a trail behind it. Just a quick dream. I woke up and didn’t think much about it. Searching for a home, especially a historic home, can be a grueling process, and I had lots of things on my mind, and weird dreams almost every night.

I also don’t normally put a lot of stock in dreams. But sometimes strange things happen.

See, in the woods behind my house, there’s a trail.

After we moved in, I asked some of our neighbors about it, and they called it “the mill race.” I didn’t know what that meant, though I knew we had a mill in town, and that the trail led about halfway to it. And then it occurred to me.

Beside the trail, there’s a little creek.

Or, at least, when we moved in, we thought it was only a creek. Turns out, it’s a race. And when neighbors told us about “the mill race,” they were talking about the creek, not the trail.

I did some digging and found this map, drawn by a noted local Loudoun County historian named Eugene Scheel.

Source: https://www.loudounhistory.org/history/aldie-mill/

So, as it turns out, we live along a head race. It starts at a small dam on the west end of the Village, and runs all the way to the mill on the east end.

Pretty cool, right? I certainly think so. It’s another piece of history I get to experience every day.

Next week, I’ll write about the mill and share its story, so if you’re interested, be sure to check back on Friday, October 9th.

Until then, happy hunting, history adventurers!