Welcome to another Mill Monday! It’s time to feature another one of Lancaster County Pennsylvania’s water-powered grist mills. Today we feature Zook’s (aka Bushong’s) mill on the Conestoga River in Upper Leacock Township.
Henry Sheibly operated a hemp and sawmill on the north side of Quarry Road from 1777 to 1797. Christian Wenger joined as a partner with Sheibly from 1797 to 1799. Wenger became the sole owner in 1799 and operated it for four more years. John Ruth bought the mill in 1803 and operated it until at least 1824. John Wenger sold the mill on the north side of Quarry Road to Samuel Rank in 1842. The mill on the north side operated as A. Shelby’s Grist and Saw Mill until 1875 when it was torn down.
In 1843, Joseph Elliot and Robert Russell built a covered bridge across the Conestoga just below the northern mill. It was a single span, Double Burr Truss that measured 195 feet long. It had a clear span of 180 feet, was 13 feet 8 inches wide and was 17 and a half feet above the water. It was at the time the longest single span covered bridge in the county. The bridge was replaced with a steel and concrete bridge in 1952.
The current mill on the south side of Quarry Road was built by John and Elizabeth Bushong in 1857. In 1899 the owner was M. R. Bushong. Willis Girvin purchased the mill in 1920. Girvin replaced the overshot wheel with two turbines. After Girvin ran into financial troubles, Elmer Zook took over in 1931. Zook operated the mill until 1972 when the mill incurred some damage during Hurricane Agnes. Elmer Zook retired in 1973. Zook had also been the miller at the Millport Roller Mill.
In 1974, Roy Wagner purchased the mill and operated it to make flour for the pretzel industry. During this time the mill was producing 50 to 70 tons of flour per week. Wagner add additional storage capacity to handle the volume. Roy’s son Gerald took over after Roy’s death in 1986. Gerald Wagner registered the business as “Zook’s Flour Mill, Inc.” in 1986.
In 1998, Wagner sold the mill to Franklin C. and Frank L. Diem. The Diem’s converted the mill to generate electricity and renamed the business to “The Ironstone Mills”. The mill was causing issues at the Lancaster Water plant because of a drought in 1988. The mill pond took a while to recharge after running during which time no water was flowing downstream. The Diem’s agreed to alter their schedule until the water flow improved. The Ironstone Mills also produces wood pellets from sawdust for use as fuel.
This mill is located at 398 Snakehill Road, Bird in Hand, PA.
Information and photographs of this mill may be found on this website at https://donaldkautz.com/mills/zooks-flour-mill/
See you next week for another Mill Monday.