Delaware’s Historic Mills – A time when mills powered Sussex’s economy

Abbott’s Mill near Milford is the last operating grist mill in Sussex County. It’s a reminder of a bygone era when water power fueled the county’s economy. RON MACARTHUR PHOTO

Learn about Delaware’s historic mills, including our own Abbott’s Mill Nature Center in Milford, in the recent article “A time when mills powered Sussex’s economy” by Ron MacArthur of Cape Gazette.

MacArthur starts off his story of Delaware’s historic mills saying:

“For the better part of two centuries, grist mills were an important part of Sussex County’s economy. Every town, village and crossroads had at least one where farmers would bring their corn, wheat and barley to be milled into flour. There were at least 40 mills in the county from the late 1600s into the 20th century.

“Some towns – Millsboro, Milton and Milford – reference the mill industry in their names…

“There is very little evidence left from that period, except in museum exhibits. The only working mill is Abbott’s Mill outside Milford. The Hearn and Rawlins Mill near Seaford was commercially active selling its famous White Dove flour up until the early 2000s…”

Ron went on to write more specifically about Abbott’s Mill Nature Center:

“If you want to know anything about the history of mills, Steve Childers at Abbott’s Mill is the man to seek out…

“Abbott’s Mill on Abbotts Pond Road is truly a step back in time. The mill, which has been completely restored, is the last remaining working mill in the region. It’s been placed on the National Register of Historic Places…

“Childers said the mill has only been used once to grind grain since 1963. In 2011, staff milled 400 pounds of barley as one of the key ingredients in Dogfish Head’s Delaware Native Ale.”

Read the full article at Cape Gazette.

Get a guided tour of Abbott’s Mill to see it in action and to get a peek into the inner workings of this piece of Delaware history. Our mill tours are available on third Saturdays, March through November, each year. You may also schedule a private tour.