Boiling Down Maple Syrup

Boiling Down Maple Syrup

Sunday, March 4, 2007 from noon until 2 p.m. step back in time as staff members at historic Colvin Run Mill in Great Falls, VA will be boiling down maple syrup over an open fire and sharing samples with onlookers. Although nowadays we get our maple syrup off the shelf, there was a time when it took considerable effort to bring the sweet goodness of maple to the table.

Mason Maddox, the miller at Colvin Run for over 10 years, will demonstrate the maple syrup-making process as he boils sap down, leaving only sweet syrup. Samples of previous syrup batches will be served on freshly baked cornbread made from cornmeal milled onsite.

The Maple Syrup Boil-Down is free and is appropriate for all ages. The mill will be open for tours. Tours are $5 per adult, $3 per child and free for kids four and under. As the mill is not heated, appropriate clothing is recommended.

The restored 19th century gristmill is surrounded by 50 to 100-year-old sugar and red maple trees, which can produce up to 20 gallons of sap per tap. It takes approximately 40 gallons of sap to create a single gallon of syrup.

In Virginia, maple syrup tapping begins in early January. Syrup-makers begin by boring a hole into the tree with a wooden drill bit. They then drive a spout into the hole and hang a bucket to collect the sap, which is emptied daily. To protect the tree, no more than two taps per tree are drilled.

Colvin Run Mill is located at 10017 Colvin Run Mill Road in Great Falls and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. For more information call 703-759-2771 or visit