Colvin Run Mill is named for the well-braided stream Colvin Run which drains into the Difficult Run which flows north-northeast for more than two miles into the Potomac River.
From the Friends of Colvin Run Mill Facebook October 20 2014, we learn that Colvin Run was most likely originally named by the land grant owner of the property, John Colville.
Often our mills, historically as well as currently, are named by the stream that supplies the water source or by the current owners of the mill. In this case, the Colvin Run Mill has had several names bearing one time owners such as: Carper's Mill, Powell's Mill, The Red Mill and the Old Brick Mill. (Resource: https://www.facebook.com/FriendsOfColvinRunMill)
The mill was built about 1811 and some of its stone foundation and brick walls remain today. The mill started its restoration in 1970. The historians engaged archeologist to investigate the mill's construction and they found many topics of interest. Originally in 1970 the wall behind the overshot waterwheel was constructed with wood. The archeologists discovered that originally in 1811 the mill's walls were built with red brick everywhere as well as at the waterwheel. During their restoration, the historians at Colvin Mill wanted the mill to be as faithful as it was when it was original constructed, in 1811. Today Colvin Run Mill is a beautiful, restored mill from the industrial revolution era.
The restoration included the originally designed race, flume and overshot waterwheel. The immense axle was rebuilt with one "single white oak log." The waterwheel/axle powers three run of millstones, elevators, sifters, sorters & separators. (Resource: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/colvinrunmill/)
Today the mill race pulls the waters from Colvin Run. The mill race is attractively designed with rock walls as it drops into the flume and through a sluice gate that allows the water to hit the overshot waterwheel. (Click Here to see today's flume, race & waterwheel). Once the water is spent through the waterwheel, the water then has a tail race that flows under Colvin Run Road and is discharged into Difficult Run.
Colvin Run Mill has experienced a restoration that meets their ideal 1811 grist mill standards. The exterior and interior of the mill is exceptional and is one of our American great historical structures. Visit Colvin Run Mill in season (spring through fall). Call to make sure you will view the waterwheel turning and the millstones grinding various grains.