Barshinger’s Mill unique Tandem Waterwheels
Barshinger’s Grist Mill was located along Barshinger Creek in York County, PA. Simon Barshinger significantly expanded his milling capacity with the addition of a second waterwheel. This Library of Congress photo, of Bunker Hill Mill in West Virginia, shows what the tandem waterwheels on Barshinger’s Mill might have looked like. If you are reading this on the Ydr.com site, click on this LINK for a Full View of the illustrations in this post on the original YorkBlog site; since the ydr.com site will occasionally cut off important details in the cropping of illustrations.
On March 26, 1892, Simon A. Barshinger purchased 50-acres straddling the boundary between York and North Hopewell Townships in York County, PA. The boundary between the townships at this location is a creek, which flows into the East Branch of the Codorus Creek near the headwaters of Lake Redman.
Simon Barshinger already had ten years of milling experience, working with his father at Anstine’s Mill in Windsor Township. The establishment of his own mill was a prime reason he purchased this property, it already contained a Grist Mill; established about 1853. Simon Barshinger made investments to significantly increase the capacity of his mill during the 28 years of his ownership. The mill took the name Barshinger’s Mill and the creek took the name Barshinger’s Mill Creek; which simply became Barshinger Creek.
Barshinger’s Mill was demolished many years ago; fortunately the late Grant Voaden documented details about this Grist Mill. Grant was an Engineer, whose hobby was systematically documenting the Mills of York County. Mr. Voaden’s sources of information on Barshinger’s Mill included: property deeds, historical publications, and 1972 interviews with C. E. Stein and Charles E. Barshinger. Charles is the son of Simon A. Barshinger. Charles was 78-years-old when he was interviewed; he was born on the Barshinger Mill property and lived at the mill site until his mid-twenties.
In addition to the original wooden overshot waterwheel, Simon Barshinger added a Fitz Steel Overshot Waterwheel, manufactured in Hanover, PA, to more than double the power of the mill. Both waterwheels were 16-feet diameter and 3-1/2 feet wide.
If a mill is built with tandem waterwheels in mind, the wheels usually have a nice separation; such as in the Aldie Mill in Loudoun County, Virginia (my visit to this mill will be the subject of a future post). In the case of Barshinger’s Mill, where the second waterwheel was added well after the mill was built, the waterwheels are usually counter rotating, due to their closer proximity; such as in the Bunker Hill Mill in Berkley County, West Virginia. The sluice header box and water control gates for the tandem waterwheels at Bunker Hill Mill are shown in this Library of Congress photo.
The sluice header box, right side of photo, is continuously filled with water from the header race. The sluice header box directs water to the water control gates, left side of photo, located above and between the tandem waterwheels. The nearest waterwheel turns counterclockwise and the waterwheel on the far side turns clockwise. This counter rotating arrangement cuts down on water splash between wheels that would adversely affect waterwheel performance.
In a 2012 post, I commented; it is unknown if Barshinger’s Mill had to be enlarged to accommodate the second waterwheel. I did not think any more about this until I saw a Bunker Hill Mill framed print last year; by an artist selling ornate frames at the Bel Air Festival for the Arts.
That print resulted in the Library of Congress find and visits to the site of Bunker Hill Mill and Aldie Mill; from which I gained a greater understanding of tandem waterwheel mills. Bunker Hill and Aldie are relatively close tandem waterwheel mills and the only such mills still standing in the states of West Virginia and Virginia, respectively. Aldie Mill is open to visitors on weekends from 12 PM to 5 PM from April to November. Tandem waterwheel mills were not very common, making Barshinger’s Mill unique.
Links to related posts include:
- How did Barshinger Creek get its name?
- Barshinger’s Mill Site along Barshinger Creek
- Barshingers of Barshinger’s Mill is October 28th talk at Red Lion
- York Pretzel Bakery makes Billions Annually
- Gotwalt’s Mill at the S-curve in Camp Betty Washington Road