Park staff, volunteers and community leaders hold the ceremonial ribbon for the restoration celebration of Colvin Run Mill historic site.
Photo by the Friends of Colvin Run Mill
Guests and residents of Fairfax County attended a free ceremony and open house at Colvin Run Mill in Great Falls the afternoon of Sunday, April 19. In addition to brief remarks made by local and county delegates, the event was an opportunity for visitors to tour the restored and fully operational mill. “It was a very active day, a lot of people enjoyed their visit and we hope they will come visit us again,” said Kitty O’Hara, a long term volunteer at Colvin Run Mill Park and affiliate of the Friends of Colvin Run Mill (FOCRM).
“Today, our community and our community leaders continue to support the operations of our mill. And it’s still such a mechanical wonder that people will come from miles around to watch it work. What’s old is new again,” said park manager Mike Henry. “Thank you for supporting us and entrusting us with this treasure of the past, present and the future.”
Miller Mason Maddox and assistants dressed in the garb of 19th century millers showed and displayed how grain can be made into grist. At Colvin Run Mill visitors can see the setting of a bygone age and marvel at the technological innovations of the early 1800s. The park is operated by the Fairfax County Park Authority and located at 10017 Colvin Run Road in Great Falls. The mill is a popular year-round destination, with visitors including children on school field trips.
THE MILL opened as a museum in 1972, and visitors can observe the historic machinery in full operation. Restoration work completed at Colvin Run Mill now shows the Oliver Evans’ (1755-1819) automated process that revolutionized late 18th and early 19th century flour milling in America. Evans’ system was the foundation of the modern automated industries that followed. Locally, George Washington received one of the first licenses to use Evans’ system in his mill on Dogue Creek in Fairfax County.
Colvin Run Mill grinds enough corn and wheat to supply the associated general store, as well as several area restaurants. Representatives from some of these local area restaurants attended the restoration celebration. This included Executive Chef at the Hyatt Dulles Elements restaurant, Matthew Warschaw, who offered samples of freshly made grits. Grits are just one dish which uses flour ground at Colvin Run Mill. “We have been using flour from this park at the hotel for the past three years now,” said Warschaw. Warschaw enjoys using fresh local and regional ingredients at his kitchen. “Colvin Run Mill is a great local treasure,” said Warschaw.
Providing samples of cornbread and BBQ were Brian and Megan Varani. “With the good weather, it was a great community event,” said Megan Varani. The couple will open a full service restaurant and bar, Big Mook’s BBQ, this summer at 1141 Walker Road, Great Falls. Opening seven days a week, the menu will consist of typical barbecue fare as well as dishes for non-barbecue eaters. In addition, Saturday and Sunday the restaurant will be open for brunch. The couple intends to use flour ground at the Colvin Run Mill in the restaurant cornbread.
HELPING THE VISITORS were teams of volunteers and other staff. “We had a fun time,” said Pam Gennari who has worked as a Fairfax County staff employee at Colvin Run Mill for five years. “This is a great place to work and we have great volunteers,” said Gennari.
For more information on Colvin Run Mill, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/colvinrunmill/.