Next door is the distillery. In 1797 Washingtons' farm manager advised him to build the distillery since he had all the key components already: a water system, a supply of grain, and a gristmill. His distillery used 5 copper stills, a 210 gallon boiler, and many mash tubs.In just 2 years time it was producing 11,000 gallons of alcohol a year. It was one of the largest operations in the US at that time. It is fascinating to watch how much labor it took to produce the alcohol. There were hot fires burning under the boilers and stills all the time. It must have been incredibly hot. I can't imagine doing it without todays modern air-conditioning. I was super hot just listening to the presentation in the building. Washington had a vision for America to be the "granary to the world". His remarkable business skills contributed to making that come true with both his mill and his distillery. What an amazing man.
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Distillery and Gristmill at Mount Vernon
We had an hour before the baptism on Saturday, so we went early and saw the Gristmill and Distillery at Mount Vernon. What fascinating history we learned today. Not only was Washington a great statesman and soldier, he was a very successful businessman and "entrepreneurial " farmer. Because Tobacco destroyed the soil, Washington was one of the first farmers to replace his crop with wheat and corn. And in 1771 he built a large stone gristmill to increase his production so he could sell overseas. And in 1791 he installed a patented automated milling system. It featured bucket elevators to move the wheat from floor to floor creating a continuous system which greatly improved production. These were cutting edge technologies at that time. It is the only operating Oliver Evans Milling System in America. They still use it today and I purchased some cornmeal from the gift store. Watching the system work was fascinating. It's incredible to watch how things are invented and work.