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Old 03-20-11, 07:13 PM   #1
doctor j
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Le Sacre du Printemps

Weíve been really busy of late with work and family matters, nothing bad, just busy. Yesterday, with the dust having settled somewhat on the non-cycling issues, Slick and I took the opportunity to get out and get some miles. The wind was out of the east and southeast, and we decided to ride east and have a tail wind on the way back to the barn.

Our intended destination was an old grist mill around 20 miles or so northeast of here. We rode U.S. 412 east, not our favorite route, until we hit AR 303 north. U.S. 412 is the main east-west artery for northwest Arkansas, and it is a busy road. It does, however, have an ample and well maintained shoulder at least for the distance we ride. Weíve had no issues riding this road in the past; itís just busy.

The grist mill is a working, water-powered mill, and it has been around since a little before the Civil War. If I remember what Iíve read about it, it changed hands a time or two during that conflict. One side didnít appreciate that the other side was using the mill to feed troops. It has burned and been flooded as well.

The mill is situated on War Eagle Creek. Here is a shot of the mill from across the creek. The bridge to the left is no youngster, either. Itís around 100 years old. Recently, officialdom caused the approaches to be repaired and equipped with metal plates, new deck boards to be added, and a coat of paint to be applied, all worthy expenditures of my tax dollars. The water wheel which powers the mill is located in the brown area next to the creek. It is an underflow wheel.

Here is a shot of yours truly and Slick in front of the mill. The two, big circular eyes staring at you are some of the old mill stones which had given up the ghost. When he saw me shooting, a young man on the porch offered to get a shot of me, and I agreed.

In the left hand side of this shot, you see a large drive belt coming up through the floor. It is driven by the shaft of the water wheel. Power from this belt is transferred through a clutch to the pulley to the left. A belt attached to this pulley and another shaft transmits power to the mill, which is the red object in the center of the shot. If you are a gear head, you would really enjoy watching this thing work. Itís a bit noisy and rattles the floor. When the miller is ready to commence operations for the day, he opens a valve outside to let water run into the mill race. When the wheel is up to speed, he engages the clutch, and work begins.

They mill various and sundry grains and offer them for sale in the building. My favorite is the yellow corn meal, which my 95-year old mother says reminds her of the meal they had when she was a little girl. What she can do with that meal and a black iron skillet is pure poetry!

Hereís a shot of the mill and water wheel from the bridge. In retrospect, I could have done better with this shot. The top of the small dam is just barely visible along the deck of the bridge. Iím guessing the damn is about 3 to 4 feet high.
In the flood of the creek a couple of years ago, the basement and first floor of the mill were awash.

Here is a shot of the valley from the road that leads to the mill. This is a beautiful valley just about any time of year. You can see War Eagle Creek on the left hand side of the photo. Just to the right of the creek is a grassy pasture. At the upper left part of the pasture, you can just barely see the mill.

According to one of the laws of physics, what goes down must come back up, if what went down expects to get home. There are a couple of short but decent climbs to get out of the valley. We were grateful for our trusty triple + Granny (capital G!) We tarried for a few minutes and shot the valley on the way home.

Now there were all sorts of things blooming, jonquils, daffodils, redbuds (tree), whitebuds (tree), Bradford pears etc.; however, the dogwoods havenít bloomed yet. Until they bloom, Iíll not be convinced that itís really Spring, regardless of what the calendar might say. Though we didnít shoot any flowers, we did, nonetheless, enjoy them and appreciate what they portendÖ civilized weather!

With a few added miles tacked on either end of the run to the mill, we stretched this one out to 50 miles. It was good for body and soul.
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Old 03-20-11, 09:44 PM   #2
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Really nice pics.... I enjoyed the post. NW Arkansas, eh?
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Old 03-20-11, 10:49 PM   #3
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Nice pics. There's a roller mill my hometown that is a museum, no longer operating, but pretty cool to visit.

This version is animated:

part 2:

part 3:

Last edited by BengeBoy; 03-20-11 at 10:52 PM.
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Old 03-20-11, 11:01 PM   #4
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Thanks for the tour, Doc. My inner history buff thanks you too.
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Old 03-21-11, 08:33 AM   #5
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What kind of bike would Stravinsky ride? How about Najinsky?
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Old 03-23-11, 10:51 PM   #6
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Nice report. Seeing those belts makes me feel old. As a teen I worked in a place where the machinery was powered by them running through the ceiling. Quickly learned the fine art of applying belt dressing to keep everything spinning. The machine is actually in the Smithsonian. We made black powder fuses called squibs.

US outlawed them as unsafe so we exported most of them to Korea.
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Old 03-23-11, 11:47 PM   #7
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Interesting photos, thanks for sharing..

I had a friend who gave me a tour of a sawmill he worked in about 30 years ago. All of the saws and other machinery were driven by belts similar to the ones in your picture. The machinery was original and dated back to the logging days in Michigan about 100 years prior to my visit. However, the power source had been converted from water to steam many years ago. I guess steam was considered a more "modern" power source.

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Old 03-24-11, 06:38 AM   #8
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Thanks for sharing. I'd love to see and hear more of beautiful rides and interesting destinations. First hand accounts and impressions relay an intimacy that is difficult to pull from a guide. How about a 50+ tour guide? Rides, destinations, places to eat, camp, stay over, festivals worth attending, spring blooms, fall colors..... road and trail, great climbs.
I ride local most of the year, but put aside a week every summer to travel somewhere beautiful, rent a cabin and bike everyday. It's great when I can combine a great location with magnificent rides, good eats and some culture. Love to hear more suggestions.
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Old 03-24-11, 07:06 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by BigBlueToe View Post
What kind of bike would Stravinsky ride? How about Najinsky?
Nijinsky would ride a Nishiki, duh...
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Old 03-24-11, 08:23 AM   #10
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Look what I found:

And this:
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