Nothing of the Horse Mill, itself, survives except the hole in an upper beam which allowed it to rotate around its vertical axis. And we are confident that’s what the little hole was for, because (1) it is exactly central to the rear portion of the building, and because (2) we have these comments from a 1962 interview with one of the factory’s last employees:

“He told me [Jimmy O’Neal telling Dr. Crowell] that he clearly remembers when the only power for the mill was supplied by one horse if the work was light and by two horses when heavy work had to be done. These horses drew a sweep pole around an upright axle and power was transmitted by an overhead drive shaft….The horses were inside because we worked summer and winter; it was a busy place once.”

This still does not tell us exactly what a horse mill of this kind looked like. We have not found another in the Maritimes with which to compare, but in Quebec there is a very interesting example. See this webpage from the museum in Trois Rivieres:

If you look closely, see can see the outline of a mill which could be pulled around by two horses. Particularly exciting is the gear they found was used to mesh with this large mill, and which in turn was fixed to a large wooden pulley about 4’ in diameter. A pulley exactly like this was stored in the Campbell Carriage Factory, and as we can find no other function it could have served, it seems to be further evidence of a horse mill of this type. See the animation, immediately following this text, to see what we’ve concluded.

Even if we are correct in determining the size and shape of this horse mill, there remain three challenges:
  • Whatever power the horses provide needs somehow to be distributed to each machine;
  • the horses turn their mill around in a horizontal rotation and only as fast as horses can plod all day long. Somehow both the direction of this rotation and its speed need to substantially adjusted in order for the horse power to be effective;
  • and finally, the horses cannot stop and start with the use of each machine (especially if two are used at the same time) so some means of stopping/starting this power must be devised at each separate machine.

Paul Bogaard
Adèle Hempel, Michael Doan
19-20th Century
© 2007, Tantramar Heritage Trust. All Rights Reserved.

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