Black River Park Day

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Black River Day
at Cooper Mill

Photo By Joe Gigli

CHESTER Visitors who came to Cooper Mill on Sunday, Aug. 4 took a little step back in time with the celebration of Black River Park Day, an afternoon filled with fun, historical and educational activities for the whole family. (above left) Lew Gelfond, of Long Valley, picking and struming some 19th century tunes. (above right) Doug Fritz, of Chester, pours corn into the hoppers. (left) A view of the 6.5 ton water wheel that powers the mill.

A Celebration
of History and Nature

Photos By Joe Gigli

By Jeanne Dikdan Gigli

CHESTER Visitors who came to Cooper Mill on Sunday, Aug. 4 took a little step back in time with the celebration of Black River Park Day, an afternoon filled with fun, historical and educational activities for the whole family.

 The event was a commemoration of the diverse technology and culture of Milltown that existed more than 100 years ago. Guests were treated to a strolling minstrel on the banjo filling the air with old-time music as they watched as well as participated in weaving and sewing demonstrations on a treadle sewing machine (an antique device operated by a foot pedal).

 The 176-year-old gristmill is located on Route 513 and is maintained by the Morris County Park Commission. It features a 6.5-ton waterwheel that turns the wooden

(top) Gioia Weber, during a demonstration, of grain processing. (above) The wheel and the spillway. (below) George Esparza, 19th century Flea Meister, and Medicine Salesman.

gears and four pairs of massive quartz millstones that grinds grain into flour. This flour, whether wheat flour or corn meal, is available for purchase.

 Visitors also had the chance to learn about the role nature and its creatures played in and around the Black River basin. There were charcoal making and blacksmithing demonstrations and a funny little flea circus show put on by a medicine man and his sales pitch for snake oil. The children delighted at the chance to try looming and spinning on a old-fashioned spinning wheel and to

grind corn into flour at a mortar and pestle pounding station.

 This writer's children are a bit too young to truly understand and

appreciate the history behind this special visit, but she enjoyed watching the photographer at work as well as the little ones marvel at the water spilling over the waterwheel that made it turn.

(above right) Bierce Riley and Bruce Tell, during a Charcoal Burn, demonstration. (right) Suzanne Youngman, teaching the young ones how to sew.

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