Mills of Genesee Valley

Dublin Core


Mills of Genesee Valley


Before the commercial extraction of fossil fuels from the Oil Creek region of northern Pennsylvania, most mechanical work in the Genesee Valley was done by human and animal power, or some source ultimately derived from the sun: burning wood, wind power, or flowing water. The exception to this, of course, was coal--by the 1880s America's dominant source of energy.

Due to the Genesee region's ample supply of wood and running water, along with the cost of shipping coal, it's quite common to find instances of various water mills in the area's history. They were adapted to a wide range of uses: cutting wood into timber and milling it into specialized shapes (lumber mill); grinding corn into animal feed or for distilling alcohol (grist mill); grinding wheat or other grains (flour mill); creating boxes and other products from wood pulp (paper mill); fabricating metals (triphammer mill); powering industrial equipment (textile mill); and by the 1880s creating electricity via turbines.

This collection gathers various documents concerning mills in the Genesee Valley. In addition to images and written texts, there is also an interactive map illustrating the density of their usage during the mid-nineteenth century.

Collection Items

Glen Avon Mills
Ca. 1912 photograph of the flour mill on Conesus Creek in Littleville, NY built by Emme Light in 1878 and subsequently operated by his sons John and William. Glen Avon Mills sold several trademarked varieties of flour, including “Peerless,” “Sweet…

Wadsworth Flour Mill, circa 1907
Two views of a Wadsworth grist mill located on Conesus Creek in the southern part of the town of Avon, N.Y. It was one of several mills in the area owned by the Wadsworth family of Geneseo, N.Y., beginning in the late eighteenth century.

Advertisement for mills and mill properties for sale in Rochester, N.Y., 1828
A handbill published by Matthew Brown, Jr. advertising property for sale near the High Falls of the Genesee River in Rochester, N.Y. Among these are a "merchant flouring mill, in good order for business" and a triphammer forge/mill, all located on a…

Insurance policy on Wadsworth Flour Mill, 1841-1846
An original copy of an insurance policy (including receipt) purchased from the Ontario and Livingston Mutual Insurance Company by James Wadsworth of Geneseo, N.Y. on "His Custom Flouring Mill" in Livingston County, N.Y. (probably on Conesus Creek in…

View of mill race and grist mill in Mount Morris, N.Y.
Grist, or flour, mill in the village of Mount Morris, N.Y., situated next to the mill race, which flows beneath the arch of a stone bridge across State St. A 1902 map indicates that it is the Galbraith Mill, built approximately where the Humphrey…

Grist mill in Mount Morris, N.Y.
A photograph, looking east, of people bringing sacks of grain to a large mill in the village of Mount Morris, N.Y., for milling and/or storing. This mill appears to be located on State St., next to the mill race that crosses it there, . A 1902 map…

Paper Mill Falls, Conesus Creek, town of Avon, N.Y.
Paper Mill Falls is the site of several early mills, including a grist (or flour) mill owned by the Wadsworth family of Geneseo, N.Y.

Flour mills along Brown's Race, Rochester, N.Y., in 1880
Brown's Race, a mill-canal built in 1816 on the west side of the Genesee River near the High Halls in Rochester, N.Y., accommodated many mills, including those depicted in this drawing: Whitney Mills (Ferguson and Lewis), Mill "B" (Moseley and…

Triphammer Falls, town of Avon, N.Y.
Bathers, friends of Martha Blow Wadsworth (wife of Herbert Wadsworth), frolicking in the falls at the Triphammer site in the southern part of the town of Avon, N.Y. The Wadsworth family of Geneseo owned a flour mill at this spot on Conesus Creek,…

Picture postcard depicting a painting of Gilbert Mills, Avon, N.Y.
Primitive painting by D. Sterner provides a nineteenth-century view of Gilbert Mills on North Avon Rd. in the town of Avon, N.Y. The grist mill, built in 1808, and other buildings on the property were purchased in the 1950s and renovated and restored…
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