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New grist for the old mill

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This new sign for Gerritsen Beach is going to be run of the mill.

The Gerritsen Mill, which was built in the 1630s and stood for three centuries, will be featured on a sign that will be displayed in the Salt Marsh Nature Center. The homage to the historic mill is the best way to pay tribute to the area’s unique past, according to a local history buff who pushed for the sign.

“I said, ‘A picture is worth a thousand words,’ ” said Bob Kaplan, who lives in Marine Park and has been brainstorming ways to commemorate the historic site. “A big picture of the mill — I think that will work real well.”

The mill operated until 1889, and was burned down in 1935, but remnants of the Gerritsen Mill still remain near the Salt Marsh Nature Center where the sign will be placed.

A historian who recently gave a lecture about the tidal mill to about a dozen history buffs at the Salt Marsh Nature Center said the technology for the mill, which he believes was very advanced for the time period. Mills located beside streams are turned continuously by the water flow, but a seaside tidal mill traps water in a reservoir at high tide and releases it to power the water wheel once the tide goes out.

“It is an absolute marvel,” said historian Tom Whitford.

Whitford said the old mill was filled with life year-round. The mill itself was a busy industrial site, but he said people also gathered near the pond behind the mill for social outings.

“In the summertime, people would have picnics,” he said. “In the winter, they would ice skate.”

Kaplan said the sign installation will give locals insight about the historic site and he said residents should expect to see the sign soon.

“Hopefully in the spring it will be up,” he said.

Reach reporter Vanessa Ogle at vogle@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–4507. Follow her attwitter.com/oglevanessa.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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