Colvin Run Mill and General Store – Great Falls, Virginia - Atlas Obscura
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Colvin Run Mill and General Store

The only surviving 19th-century water-powered mill found in the Washington, D.C. area. 

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Colvin Run Mill was constructed sometime around 1811, just off of Leesburg Pike. The mill itself is in pristine shape thanks to the efforts of the Fairfax County Park Authority to faithfully reproduce the building, waterwheel, mill race, and other supporting mechanisms using methods and materials similar to the original design.

Brick was used to replace the wood that had been used to repair the original wall on the waterwheel side of the mill. Putlog holes were included as well to match the other walls. The waterwheel and axle beautifully harken back to the original versions using white oak. Burr stones imported from France pave the way for a long future of grinding.

The Miller’s house dates to 1809 and is not far from the mill. The most renowned residents, Addison and Emma Millard and their family, bought the mill in 1883. Along with some of their 20 children, they operated the mill until 1934. There is a beautiful garden near the house that is still lovingly tended by the park authority and a variety of exotic teas can be found among the other plants and flowers.

A barn and blacksmith shop were added in 1970 during the restoration. Inside the barn on display is a 1/24 scale model of the mill and a collection of 19th-century farming tools. 

The general store near the park entrance was originally located across Colvin Run Road from the mill and supported the community from the 1890s through the 1940s. The store was acquired along with the rest of the property by the park authority and moved to its current location during the 1970 renovation. The store still features old-fashioned candy, toys, and souvenirs in addition to the products ground in the mill.

Know Before You Go

The mill is still fully operational and white or yellow cornmeal, white or yellow grits, and wheat flour can be ordered online or purchased in the general store. Teas from the garden are also available for sale.


The park is also a popular destination for field trips and there are regular events at the mill designed to keep the history of the mill alive with new generations of visitors.

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