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The Syndicate Mill (1.2)


Water is Power

Other than finding Iowa had a substantial number of water-powered mills—for grain production most likely, but also possibly lumber manufacture—its surprising how few photographs or drawings there are distinguishing the three principal types: 1) over-shot, 2) under-shot, and 3) side-shot. I can’t say why I chose the side-shot variety for Agincourt’s Syndicate Mill, but it’s what I designed back in 2008 when the project was young.

Side-shot wheels, as you might suspect, lie on their side and the water passes them on the left or the right—does being in the Northern Hemisphere make any difference?—and then transfers the power directly up into the mill, where various cogs and belts transfer it to as many places as practicable. I can’t say what proportion of 19th century wheels operated this way; clearly, if photographs are to be believed, the other two types were more popular. Then, again, side-shot wheels aren’t especially photogenic. This image comes from an article at waterhistory.org.

Though I’m hardly an authority on 19th century industrial technology (where’s Elliott when you need him?), the general idea was that water from the mill pond would be diverted as high as possible on the contours and then split, passing in two raceways beneath the building’s first phase on its way back to the river. Phase Two mirrored the first, with an administrative “hyphen” between them; imagine a similar element reflected off the right side of the plan below. But would a river like the Muskrat have produced enough power for such a large facility? Until someone tells me otherwise (and even if they do) I’m sticking with this first gut reaction.


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