Bens Mill on the New England Trailblazer Tour

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I mentioned my new jacket last week, and wanted to share a picture with you. As I said, I fell in love with it and just had to have it. It looks completely different at night than it does in the daytime.

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On day two of our Travels with Harley New England Trailblazer Tour Jim and I decided to break off from the pack. We left White River Junction and instead of going with the rest of the group on the Kancamagus Highway, headed to Bens Mill.

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Everyone said it was an incredible ride that offered awesome views of the White Mountains, the Swift River and the Sabbaday Falls, but after spending the morning at Bens Mill, we were glad we opted out.

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Jim has always been quite passionate about the history of the watermills, which is the main reason that we decided to skip the Kancamagus Highway. We spent the morning at Bens Mill and had an incredible time.

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Ben Thresher’s Mill in Vermont has been in operation since 1848 and is one of the few wood working mills that are still operating in the United States.

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Bens Mill started back in 1872 first specializing in wagon bodies and wheels followed by working sleds and stone boats. The blacksmith shop that was adjacent to Bens Mill forged relevant metalwork. The other part of the mill was home to a hydraulic apple cider press.

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The last owner/operator, Ben Thresher, ran his mill year round from 1941 until he passed in 1995. Up until his untimely passing, Ben operated the then thriving mill in order to meet the needs of the people from Barnet and the neighboring towns.

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When Lois and Hiram Allen purchased Bens Mill in 1999 they turned it over to a nonprofit trust, The Bens Mill Trust. Since its creation, the trust has restored the exterior, foundation and the roof of the mill as well as the shafting and the belts. The machinery is now restored to its working condition, and the trust has completed a full-sized mock-up of the cider press and the turbine penstock.

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Today, thanks to the work of the Ben’s Mill Trust, all of the machinery still works. The water-powered turbine, which is backed up by a gasoline driven engine provides the power to Ben’s Mill.

 

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The dam that provides the water source for the mill is in a state of disrepair, but work has begun to complete more renovation thanks to the Bens Mill Trust. The Bens Mill Trust Board of Directors is committed to restoring the water power back to Bens Mill and is currently waiting on permit approvals from the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources.

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When it was time to go I could swear that I saw a tear in Jims eye. He told me how badly he wanted to stay so that he could help the Bens Mills Trust project as it is run by volunteers. We both think it is imperative that the history of the watermills be preserved and hope that you do too.

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The success of Bens Mill centers around memberships, volunteers, and of course, donations. If you would like to participate in this hugely rewarding and historic endeavor, click here.