Old Mill Park

Old Mill Park is located here, between Caroline Street and the Rappahannock River.  Currently, the park is open year round and gives the public access to a playground, soccer fields, and picnic tables.  Several mills were located in or near the present location of the park in the 18th through 20th centuries, thus giving the park its name.  These mills were incredibly important in the development of commerce along the Rappahannock River, which helped in the growth and development of the city.

Fredericksburg is located at the fall line of the Rappahannock River.  The existing rapids caused by the fall line hindered shipping along the full length of the river, but also created an immense amount of water power that was perfect for turning water wheels in mills.  The “Old Mill District,” as it is now known, still contains the remains of a few structures related to the area’s once prominent mill industry.  The remains of the Myers and Brulle’s Germania Flour Mill are located across Caroline Street from the Rappahannock River Heritage Trail.

The remains of the Germania Flour Mill on Caroline Street.Photo Credit: Tim Poe, https://ssl.panoramio.com/photo/33693801

The remains of the Germania Flour Mill on Caroline Street.
Photo Credit: Tim Poe, https://ssl.panoramio.com/photo/33693801

The wheel pit of the Washington Woolen Mill can be seen just north of Ford Street, near where the trail begins.  The structure itself, though it no longer stands, served as a hospital during the Civil War.  Notably, the mill itself employed more female workers than any other business in Fredericksburg at the time, and Clara Barton worked there after the Union army turned the structure into a hospital in 1862.

This mill served as a hospital during the Civil War.

This mill served as a hospital during the Civil War. Photo credit: http://npsfrsp.wordress.com/2010/08/12/a-vivid/image-of-an-1864-hospital-the-washington-woolen-mill/

The Washington Woolen Mill during the Civil War.

The Washington Woolen Mill during the Civil War. Photo credit: Mysteries and Conundrums, http://npsfrsp.wordress/com/2010/08/12/a-vivid-image-of-an-1864-hospital-the-washington-woolen-mill/

 

Remains of the Washington Woolen Mill todayPhoto credit: http://npsfrsp.wordpress.com/2010/08/12/a-vivid-image-of-an-1864-hospital-the-washington-woolen-mill/

Remains of the Washington Woolen Mill today
Photo credit: http://npsfrsp.wordpress.com/2010/08/12/a-vivid-image-of-an-1864-hospital-the-washington-woolen-mill/

Today, most historical sources agree that Francis Thornton, Sr., constructed the first mill in 1720.  More information about the Thornton family and their thriving businesses can be found by scanning a code farther along the trail.

 

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