Second Annual Herring Run Festival
April 25 and 26, 10 A.M to 5 P.M.
Nestled on Town Brook, Plimoth Grist Mill is the place to be to witness the spectacle of the annual Alewife (river herring) migration. Each spring over 100,000 alewives ascend the mill’s fishway on their way to spawn in Billington Sea, then pass by again on their return trip to the ocean.
Join us for our second annual Herring Run Festival and help us celebrate the wondrous and humble herring! Mother Nature permitting, witness the herring make their annual run up Town Brook. Visit with scientists and learn about their efforts to restore herring populations, get a close-up view of the herring, and help collect valuable data by counting the fish! The festival will feature tours of the fish run, hands-on activities for kids, and music. Plimoth Grist Mill will be grinding organic cornmeal and sampe (grits) while sharing samples of our favorite corn dishes. Brought to you by Plimoth Plantation, with the Town of Plymouth and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
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Film and Discussion Event: DamNation
Kick off the Herring Run Festival with a film and discussion event hosted by Douglas Watts, author of the book Alewife. The award-winning film DamNation is a powerful odyssey across American exploring the changing views of damns and their environmental impact. Following the film, a panel of environmental experts will discuss Plymouth’s dam removal and river restoration efforts.
Nestled alongside bucolic Town Brook, and just a short walk from the waterfront and Mayflower II, the Plimoth Grist Mill tells the story of the grist (corn grinding) mill built by the Pilgrims in Plymouth Colony. After more than a decade of laboriously grinding corn by hand in wooden mortars, the colony authorized the construction of a water-powered corn grinding mill on Town Brook in 1636. Colonist John Jenney was given permission to run the mill and to take a portion of the corn that was brought for grinding as a payment or “toll.” After his death in 1644 John Jenney left the mill to his wife Sarah. Sarah, and later their son Samuel, ran the mill until 1683.
Our mill is a reproduction of the 1636 mill, and was completed in 1970. Many of the parts (the stones, spindle, and stone furniture) are from the early 1800s and were salvaged from a mill near Philadelphia, PA.
The Plimoth Grist Mill is a working mill that we operate twice a week. We use water power to mill organic corn into delicious, freshly ground cornmeal on our 200 year old French Buhr millstones.
We are open from 9am to 5pm daily.
During your visit, you can explore the mill and learn about the importance of mills in the 1600s, the process of grinding corn, and the ecology of the Town Brook area, including the annual herring run. Outside the mill you’ll see how water diverted from Town Brook provides power for the 14 foot diameter waterwheel. Inside, on the grinding floor, you’ll see the 54 inch diameter bed and runner stones, and learn how they work together to mill or cut the corn into finer and finer pieces. Downstairs, you’ll come face to face with the mill’s gears, including the massive face gear and the smaller wallower or lantern gear. Working together, these gears translate the vertical power of the water wheel to the horizontal power needed to turn the runner stone.
On days when we are milling corn, watch as the miller orchestrates the water wheel, gears, and stones to turn out delicious, fragrant cornmeal. Hear the corn cracking and feel the rumble as the waterwheel and gears work together to turn the 2500 pound runner stone. This spring we will generally be milling corn on Fridays and Saturdays from roughly 1pm to 3pm. Although we try our best to stick to this milling schedule, sometimes special orders or mill maintenance mean that we have to change days. To check if we will be running the mill on the day of your visit, please call 508-746-1622 ext. 8242.
The Plimoth Grist Mill has a lot of stories to tell! Make sure to visit our exhibit gallery, where you can grind corn in a mortar and pestle, sift corn to make cornmeal, experiment with a water wheel and learn how to tie a miller’s knot.
Finish up your mill experience with a trip to our mill museum shop where you can buy our freshly ground, organic cornmeal and sampe and other culinary treats, as well as books and souvenirs. If you can't visit the Plimoth Grist Mill or need to replenish your cornmeal supply, order online and have Plimoth Grist Mill cornmeal delivered to your door!
Keep in Touch
If you'd like to keep in touch or want to learn more about our experiences running the Plimoth Grist Mill, visit The Miller's Tale blog.
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