Bahr’s Mill Past

Postcard View
Postcard View

Bahr’s Mill began operations as the Gabel linseed oil mill
some time before 1828. At that time linseed oil was 
extracted from flaxseed through three operations. First, 
two 3500-pound runner stones crushed the seed as
illustrated. Then the resulting meal was roasted over a 
fire, and was finally pressed between wooden wedges to 
extract the oil. The wedges were continuously, and noisily
hammered by a “stamper” beam that was also powered by
the water wheel.

After the linseed oil industry changed processes mid-century, Abraham Gabel and his son John bought spoke-making machinery in 1871. This was profitable enough that in about 1896 the old mill building was torn down and the present one erected in 1897 by Jacob Bahr, John Gabel’s son-in-law. (See the picture left, below, to see the Bahr’s and the millwright when the mill was new.) Because it was more economical to equip the mill with a wooden water wheel than a turbine or steam engine, it still houses what has been described as “the best remaining [in the US] millwright-built, wooden, overshot water wheel.” The wheel was measured and drawn for the Historic American Engineering Record – keep your eye on this space for scanned images of these drawings when available. All the gearing still remains, including that which feeds the cable drive in the cupola. There is also hay rake making machinery that was installed at a later date that is also driven by the lineshaft.

Take a virtual tour of Bahr’s Mill.