Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Springfield Mill

Below is an image from the circa 1890 “Catalog of Burnaham’s New Improved Standard Water Wheel”.   The catalog, now in our archives, was discovered in the Bloomfield Barn with the office address of John Morris (876 Drexel Building) written on the cover.  

A similar Burnham turbine in the penstock at Springfield Mills was uncovered in September during restoration activities.  The Burnham turbine, built in Glenn Rock, PA, was last restored during WWII to power the irrigation pumps in the mill supplying the beef herd here at Morris Arboretum.  Here is a picture from roughly the same perspective as the sketch. 

I was able to go over to Springfield Mill at Bloomfield Farm (right across Northwestern Avenue from the main entrance to Morris Arboretum) last week and check out the turbine first hand.  It was really interesting learning about the rich history of Springfield Mill, its economical importance in this area at the turn of the century and the mechanical engineering that allowed work to be accomplished without electricity.  It is very hard for some people to conceive of life without TV, internet and much more so electricity!

This picture, taken from above shows the turbine at the bottom and then the gears that transfer the movement into the mill to power the operation.
From this angle, you can see at the top where a gear would transfer energy into the mill (the wooden, blue painted structure).
The inside of the mill is in terrific condition, considering it is more than 150 years old.  Renovations are also currently under operation to restore the mill.  Group tours of the mill can now be scheduled - check our website ( or call Lisa Bailey (215.247.5777 x157).


  1. Great sequence. The volunteers have done a remarkable job in getting the mill open.