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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Restoration of Bridgeton Mill waterfall underway

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Volunteers work on patching up problem areas at the Bridgeton Mill waterfall Tuesday.
Mike Roe has been quite busy these days.

His latest project has cost a lot of money. But in his mind, it's been well worth it.

Roe has owned the Bridgeton Mill for several years. However, he recently started restoring the waterfall area by the mill.

"The waterfall is what makes the bridge famous," Roe said Tuesday. "I think it should be saved."

For nearly a year, Roe -- with help from volunteers -- has been working on patching the dam underneath the wooden bridge by the mill.

He said the dam was originally wooden until 1913 when the owners at the time poured concrete over the top of it.

But erosion has caused the concrete to break apart.

"We're trying to patch the holes," Roe said.

He said the first estimate he received said the project would cost $750,000 while the second estimate was $250,000.

"We don't have (the money) so we're just going to try to do it ourselves," Roe said.

Roe said the Department of Natural Resources informed him they would like to see the dam restored but the organization was unable to help fund the project. In addition, Roe said he looked into grants, but was unable to secure one.

"If it's going to be repaired, we're going to have to do it," he said. "Besides, we'd like to do it ourselves."

Roe said he hopes to start pouring concrete for the dam as early as Friday and patch work could be concluded by this week.

When the project is finished, he said there will be a 9-foot waterfall across the entire 200-foot area.

However, more repairs will be needed to restore the dam.

"We're hoping, hoping, that by next summer, we can finish it," he said.

According to its website, the Bridgeton Mill is the oldest continually operating mill in the state. It has been open every year for more than 180 years.

Originally a saw mill in a log building, the mill was later changed to grind grains.

In 1869, the mill burned and a larger building was built as a grist mill. In 1951, a dust explosion destroyed the water power of the mill, putting an end to the flour mill. But the building was electrified and ran as a feed mill until 1969.

Roe purchased the mill in 1995 and has been restoring it since. His family currently produces more than 20 products out of the mill.

The building is one of 27 buildings in Bridgeton included in the National Historic District.

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