brown's mill, Off Route 74 and Daleville Road
Mill type: Saw and grist mill
Waterway: Fenton River
Water power: Overshot wheel/turbine
History – Brown’s mill was an integral part of a number of mills in the East Willington/Willington Hollow district. History of the site is sketchy at best with little known about its construction date and the millers that may have operated there. The name most associated with the mill is Joseph Brown. Others names associated with the mill include Zoeth Eldredge in 1794, Cyrus Topliff in 1794, Ebenezer Heath, and C. E. Amidon. The mill may have been constructed as early as circa 1776 when property records indicated that Joseph Brown obtained property from Ebenezer Heath near George’s Brook, at the confluence of Georges’ Brook and the Fenton River. That site was the location of Brown’s Mill. Furthermore the records indicated that Joseph Brown obtained rights to the use of building, repairing, and improving a grist and saw mill from Clement Topliff on the Fenton River in 1777 raising question as to whether this was the Brown’s Mill or Topliff’s Daleville Mill site. Charles F. Amidon was a later owner connecting the Amidon family influence to the site to the early 1950s.
The site is located about 350 feet south of Route 74 downstream of the where George’s Brook formerly joined the Fenton River. The confluence of George’s Brook with the Fenton River was relocated to a point about 150 feet south of Route 74 in the 1970s when a conservation pond was constructed in the original location of the river.
Site Characteristics: A small wing style dam about six to eight feet high across the Fenton River serve as a water supply source for power. The dam today has been totally breached. On the west bank was a short head race that went to a wheel pit perpendicular to the river. The tail race made a 90 degree turn into a stone lined eight foot wide troth or tail race that extended about 250 feet parallel to the river before it returned to the river. A definitive conclusion could not be made as to whether a standard wheel, a turbine, or both were used at the site. The characteristics of the race were most unusual defying explanation.
Why was such a long intricate race constructed unless there was another mill building a short distance downstream requiring water power? The record of the “Clement Topliff grist mill a little below Browns Mill” might be an explanation. Topliff did own land just below Brown so a logical explanation for the tail race was to have served another water wheel and mill. If so, an undershot wheel would have the most likely type. Near the end of the race was foundation type stone work that may have supported at least one and possibly two mill buildings. Definitive conclusions could not be reached due to the extent of flood damage over the years. The long stone lined race was not needed without serving another building and the tail race could have been relatively short had another wheel not been utilized.
Additional Sources of Information: Upcoming book on Willington’s Lost Mill Sites
brown's mill tail race