Bahr’s Mill was home to four different activities over the years. From about 1825 to 1871, it was the site of a linseed oil mill. The oilstones are still present on the property.
Beginning in 1871, the Gabel family began making wagon wheel spokes and tool handles. The first machine used in this process was the duplicating lathe. From there, a spoke would go through the tenoning machine, the spoke facer and the throating or leafing machine. Finally, it would be sanded.
Wagon wheel hubs were also made at the mill, hand turned on the long lathe. An incomplete hub is visible on the right. The same lathe was used to turn wooden bobbins, as pictured (see “Long Lathe & Hub,” right).
Because the first mill, known as Gabel’s Oil Mill and Spoke Factory, was located in an area of wagon and later automotive production, the spoke making business was fairly profitable. In about 1896, the old mill building was torn down, and the present building erected by Jacob Bahr, J.L. Gabel’s son-in-law. The building is laid out to accommodate the machines it houses. Power was provided by a 13 foot overshot waterwheel, and transmitted from the basement to the cupola by a combination of wooden and metal gears.
This second mill building also housed an animal feed mill, and later wooden hay rake making equipment was installed. Because the power was available, the cupola was built on top of the roof, and a cable drive installed. The cable went from the cupola, across the street through a slot in the roof of the store, and into the barn to power a threshing machine. In the old post card view at the top of the PAST page, the slot is just visible below the word “at” in “View at Gabelsville, Pa.”
Today Bahr’s mill is being turned into an operating museum. We are open by appointment. See PRESENT for more details, including up-coming events.