In 1755, John Ballendine had purchased 20 acres of land in Occoquan Town, and he developed different commercial enterprises, including an iron works. By the end of the 18th century, Nathaniel Ellicott, a Quaker, buys what’s left of the iron works and turns it into a milling operation. It would become the first automated gristmill in the United States.
The mill would remain in operation until 1924. A generator fire in the Occoquan Electric and Power Company resulted in the destruction of the building. The Mill House, which had been connected to the mill, did survive, but it collapsed due to neglect.
The Mill House, however, would be restored in the 20th century, first for office space during the construction of the Occoquan dams and later as a museum. The Town of Occoquan owns the Mill House, and it is leased to the Occoquan Historical Society who runs the museum.
Historical Marker Inscription
John Ballendine established this gristmill at the Occoquan Falls ca. 1755. By 1800 it was owned by Nathaniel Ellicott and housed machinery to unload grain from wagons or barges, grind it, and return it to its carrier. The building, the region’s first automated gristmill, burned in 1924. Only the Miller’s House, now the Mill House Museum, remains.
Town of Occoquan
River Mill Park, 458 Mill Street, Occoquan, VA, 22125 United States
38° 41′ 7.692″ N, 77° 15′ 43.842″ W