Van Nest’s Mills

THIS IS A VIEW OF THE OLD VAN NEST’S MILL AND THE WILL SMITH BRIDGE FACING TOWARDS MANVILLE • CLICK PHOTO TO ENLARGE

Awhile back I did a post on The Van Nest’s Mills. If you were in or around in Manville in the early 80′s or before, you probably remember it just over the Will Smith bridge. The famous mill collapsed into the Millstone River in 1982, and the rest of the debris was destroyed by a fire a year later. In my earlier post I mentioned that it was a key figure in the Revolution having allegedly been burglarized by the British for flour to feed the troops. This fact, however been disputed by some folks on this blog as possibly being inaccurate or the “wrong mill” I suppose it’s possible. I’m not going to go into the history all over again, as it was all covered HERE. The mill was important to me as a point of childhood interest, as my grandfather used to bring me there back when the bridge still had a huge metal frame covering it. He used to try and explain to me how water could generate electricity to run the mill, and later showed me the turbine after the building collapsed… fascinating stuff. Even then  at a young age I remember being so bummed that we lost a piece of our  history.  It was also the first time I remember seeing a real collapsed building up close and personal. These great photos came to me through Larry, a member of the blog, and are from the collection of Art Shandor, who was a teacher and Little Weston resident. These are just awesome. Thanks Larry.

SOMERSET MESSENGER GAZETTE “1966″ PHOTO • CLICK TO ENLARGE

Above is a photo of the same building from the other side. It was still proud and fully standing. The foundation is where the the turbine was housed to draw power form the flowing water, which helped to power the mill. In 1982 this happened… leaving nothing but a cement foundation after they removed the burned building.

COLLAPSED • CLICK TO ENLARGE

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6 thoughts on “Van Nest’s Mills

  1. We moved into Little Weston in 1964.I never saw the steel superstructure over the Millstone.I fished all the time in the mill,sat on the grist wheel and pulled out rock bass and sunnies.Until Grandpa Smith came out and yelled.
    At night we would pick strawberries and watermelons down the road into
    Zarepath.That was very dangerous,you could get shot with salt.
    Back then then Millstone was slow and green,I can’t remember a flood until 1971 !

  2. Wilbur Smith told me that there was a mill dam above the current dam and that motor boats would sometimes hit their propellers on the rocks when the river was low. So possibly the original Van Nest’s Mill was a few hundred feet upstream from the current dam. But Wilbur said he never found a foundation upstream from his house. Wilbur also said he remembers a submarine coming through the canal lock when he was much younger.

  3. That first photo is gorgeous. I guess the buildings on the south side of the causeway came down when the new bridge was built and the road widened?
    (although there is a driveway cut-out in the curb there)

    I remember what it was like squeezing two cars across the old bridge, with the abrupt drop on the Manville end.

  4. Pingback: Wilbur Smith and the Van Nest Mill | Manville, NJ ... Revolution on the Millstone

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