Status of Ben's Mill after Hurricane Irene

Jay Oyster's picture

Ben's Mill prior to restoration work, as it was in the 1970s

Anyway, Ben's Mill sits right next to the Stevens River near Barnet, VT. A foundation was formed to restore the mill to working operation so it could be used as a teaching tool to show how woodworking and water based machinery worked in 18th and 19th century New England. The movie is fascinating. (A portion of it is available for streaming on the FolkStreams website (see attached).) They've done some good work cataloging all of the old machines and restoring the old penstock (wooden tube that feeds water to the turbine), as well as the blacksmith area and the foundations. They still have permitting issues to deal with before they can rebuild the dam that finally washed away in the late 80s.

In any case, I've followed the mill restoration efforts the last couple years with great interest and was worried that the whole kit and caboodle had been washed downstream by the floods. I asked on the Woodnet forums, but nobody knew what had happened. So I finally called Hiram Allen, the guy who bought the mill and donated it to the foundation, and now heads up the restoration effort. He was very gracious to answer my questions.

No, Irene didn't cause them many problems. They got a bit of water in the basement, but no real damage. Their portion of Vermont (they call it "The Kingdom") was basically spared from the worst of Irene. However, back in May, they had a local cloudburst that swept through and flooded the basement with 2 feet of water and a bunch of mud. I guess they got water into the generator and mud everywhere. No serious damage, and most importantly, no one locally was hurt by either storm. I was very relieved to hear the good news. Now I need to go buy a membership to the organization. Personally, it just feels like helping my Dad.

Ben's Mill movie excerpt
Ben's Mill Restoration work