Field Trip: Garland Mill

Dana & Ben Southworth


Visit Lancaster’s incredible water-powered sawmill.  Located “out east”, this mill was built 5 years before Abe Lincoln became president. 

Garland Mill was built in 1856 by Eben Crocket Garland.  The mill is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a rare survivor of the type of water-powered sawmills that flourished by the thousands in nineteenth-century New England. Garland Mill is the only commercial sawmill in New Hampshire that operates solely by waterpower.

Although Garland Mill has had turbines made by various manufacturers over the years, the type of motive power has never changed, nor has the mode of power transmission through shafting and belts.  Join Dana and Ben Southworth as they show off their unique and historic treasure.  

Note: Please pre-register for the Field Trip by emailing WSPA at, and include the word “Mill” in the subject line.  Details will be emailed to you. 

Garland Mill is five miles outside Lancaster village. From Main Street turn onto Middle Street at the old brick bank and go 1½ miles out of town. Turn left on Grange Road. Take first right on Garland Road and go about 2½ miles. The mill is on the right and there is a wooden sign at the drive entrance. Wear good footwear, and sensible clothing. 

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Event Report

Field Trip to Garland Mill - August 13, 2021

It may have been Friday the 13th but about 50 non-superstitious folks came out to learn about water-powered Garland Mill. On arrival we see that we're at the output side of the sawmill.

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The mill pond dam

There is only about a 10 foot drop that drives this turbine-driven mill.

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The Mill Pond

Here's  a look at the mill pond full of white pine logs. The soaking in the water results in a softer, cleaner log - making it easier to cut. In the background is one of the 4000 footers - Mt. Cabot.

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A view looking across the mill pond back to the sawmill

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After explaining the machinery inside the mill, Dana invited folks outside to view the pond and to demonstrate the beginning of the process. Dana has a chain ready to attach to the logs while his son, David, uses a pike pole.

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The chain Dana uses to secure the logs is now attached to the main chain used to pull the logs into the barn.

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The logs have arrived!

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Dana uses a cant dog or peavey to roll the log on to the carriage.  After securing to the carriage, we're ready for the cut.

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The turning saw blade may look blurry here but it was surprising how slowly it turns and also how relatively low the sound level was.

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Here's a close look at the blade.

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Trim Saw

To cut the wood to length, Dana earlier demonstrated the trim saw which is operated by his foot on a lever which raises the blade into the wood for the cut.

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They crossed out the 150 as they're now at 164 years. This is an almost incredible feat.

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A final look back. Thank you so much Dana and David for showing everyone how this amazing sawmill works. We were all so lucky on this Friday the 13th that you gave us this glimpse into the operation of an historic water-powered mill - one that has endured for so long.