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Some Information Courtesy of the Upshur County Fact Book
| Slowly, but visibly, the Friends of Fidler’s Mill are getting closer to their goal to have Upshur County’s only remaining mill fully operational again, grinding corn and wheat. |
During the 2001 Strawberry Festival, a newly built wheel and driveshaft were installed at the 152-year-old mill, which sits alongside the Little Kanawha River.
“The wheel came in eight pieces,” said Friends Vice-President Gail Bosley. “We installed the drive shaft, then reassembled the wheel. Our next decision is about the race, which was washed out with the dam in 1942. We’re hoping to build that race, but when I don’t know. We might have to build another dam, but we might not have to.”
The group had planned on replacing the roof on the former general store that used to sit just a few yards away, but a particularly brutal 2003 winter caused too much damage to the structure. Bosley said the structure became unstable and dangerous, so the group decided to remove it.
“Just about everything inside the mill, on all three floors, is the original equipment,” Bosley said. The mill still contains the giant, granite-like buhrs, imported in sections from France. The wool-picking apparatus and the wood carding machine, once powered by the mill race, are intact.
Bosley said the main requirement now is volunteers to help with the design and installation of the mill race.
“Carolyn Merrill already has made some place mats on the old loom, and she is making oldfashioned area rugs to have for sale.”
At one time, Upshur County had numerous mills. Fidler’s Mill, however, is the only remaining mill. The mill was built in 1849 by William Fidler of Fluvanna County on the site of a smaller mill built in 1821 by Daniel Peck. Fidler purchased a 200-acre farm that included Peck’s small mill. Using his slaves, Fidler enlarged the mill in 1849, adding the present stone foundation.
After Fidler’s death in May 1865, his son took over the mill and operated it until his death in 1901. E.G. Wilson then purchased the mill and added the second floor. When he encountered financial difficulties, Hudson Fidler bought the mill and restored it to commercial status, adding the seasonal wool carding operation upstairs. In 1942, a flood washed out the dam that supplied the water, and operations ceased until after World War II. Grafton Coal Co. purchased the mill and land after the war and donated it in 197I to the Southern Upshur Business Association (SUBA) so that it could be restored and preserved as an historic site. SUBA is in discussions to transfer the deed to the mill to the Friends of Fidler’s Mill so that the non-profit organization can receive federal grant monies.
The Friends of Fidler’s Mill was created in 1998, just after the mill was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The mill is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 12 to 4 p.m., from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend.
For information or to provide donations or other help, call Gail Bosley at 924-5838, or Karen Buckton at 924-6112 or write to the Friends of Fidler’s Mill at P.O. Box 311, Rock Cave, WV 26234 or online at www.fidlersmill.com.