As one of the centerpieces of the Mill Ridge, the Brewer-Austin Mill is located at the northeastern edge of North Lake in the Discovery Park of America in Union City, Tennessee.
Building of the Mill
Will Brewer is retired from the Piney Bowes and Bill Austin is a retired professor from the University of Tennessee at Martin campus. Bill Austin and Will Brewer in the summer of 2011 built the Brewer-Austin Mill. This particular mill is unique in Tennessee as it has a traditional timber frame such as mortise and tenon joints. No nails or screws were used in the construction of the building, however oak pegs were used to secure the joints together.
A hurst frame is an internal framework that is built that supports the gears and millstones. It is built like a cage around these inner workings to prevent damage to the main structure from the vibrations of the working machinery.
The Massengill Mill was first opened in 1796. The parts were replaced in 1816. The hurst frame of the mill was constructed around 1850 and purchased from the Massengill Mill on the Buffalo Creek in Grainger County, Tennessee. The Massengill Mill was closed during the Great Depression and now sit inside the Brewer-Austin Mill.
The Water Wheel is often located outside and turns according to the water current. This can be done by a stream, river, or a water flume. It is mounted on the axle and drives the mill by a Pit Wheel or Rim Drive. The Waterwheels in some mills have been replaced with Turbines.
The Crown wheels is the wheel that drives the mechanism and is often located at the top of the upright shaft.
The Great Spur Wheel is a large wheel that is attached to the upright shaft which drives one or more stone nuts. Where it is located determines how many stone nuts are moved.
The Pit Wheel is often mounted on the opposite end of the axle to the waterwheel. The Pit Wheel drives the Wallflower gear.
The Bedstone is the stone that does not move. This is where the corn or wheat is placed for grounding.
The Running Stone is the stone that is placed over the Bedstone and is used to grind the corn or the wheat into flour or cornmeal.
Overdrift stones are usually driven from above.
Underdrift stones are usually driven from below.
Gears and Turbines
The Wallflower gear is a small gear that is the base of the upright shaft. The Pitwheel drives it.
Stonenut is a small gear that is driven by the Great Spur Wheel. The main job of the Stonenut is to move the Running Stone. This is considered to be an Underdrift stone because it is driven from below. Rarely are stone nuts considered Overdrift Stones, but there are rare ones in existence.
A turbine replaced the waterwheel in several watermills as a replacement for power. This usually happened when the Mill was modernized although there are very few mills that are built with turbines in them originally.
Shafts and Axles
A Layshaft is a horizontal shaft that has the Wallflower and one or more Spur Wheels attached to it.
The Axle carries the Waterwheel. It also can carry the Pit Wheel at its opposite end.
The Upright Shaft is the main shaft that drives the machinery. It carries the Wallflower, Great Spur Wheel, and sometimes the Crown Wheel.
A Rim Drive is some waterwheels. The are a rack that is attached to the circumference. The mill is driven by a pinion mounted on a separate axle which will have a Pit Wheel attached at its opposite end.
We would love to thank all of our hosts at Discovery Park of American in Union City, Tennessee. All of your staff were helpful, kind, informative, and very well versed in the historical events that they wished to convey. Very well done.
We thank you for continuing to support Kentucky Tennessee Living. As we bring to you the history of Kentucky and Tennessee.
Glossary of mill machinery
Discovery Park of America
The Austin-Brewer Mill photograph taken by the University of Tennessee in Martin.
Photographs taken by Joanna Adams Sergent on March 20, 2022, Discovery Park of America, Heritage Park, Union City, Tennessee
Copyright and Other Information
All photos are in the public domain unless otherwise noted. This includes photos dated before 1923. All other photos are used with permission or under the education fair use statute of the US copyright law.
Copyright 2022 Kentucky Tennessee Living
Social Media Pages
For more about us, you can visit our Facebook page:
Our Twitter page:
Our YouTube Channel:
When we forget our past and who we are as a people, then we become who “they” say we are. ~~ David Sergent
I have attended the University of Kentucky. I have an Associates Degree from Hazard Community College and Technical School. I have also attended the University of Pikeville. I have taken several classes in Journalism as well as in the Appalachian History, Literature, and Sociology during my time at those schools.
I was born in Florida and grew up in Burdine, Kentucky. I have been married to David W. Sergent since May 4, 2013. I have two children and four grandchildren from a previous marriage. I currently live in Tennessee but my hope is to one day come back home to live in the beautiful mountains once more.