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I’ve always thought that old mills are about the most picturesque sights to be found, and when they still work, it’s even better. We often forget, unless we get engrossed in a historical novel about early America, how important local mills were, even into the twentieth century. Whole communities often sprang up precisely in places where a mill could be located.

On the one hand, mills have a primitive look about them: on the other hand, they were a stunning technological achievement, built and maintained by skilled craftsmen who had to design every mill to fit its local context. Being able to grind entire sacks of grain or corn in a short period of time lifted a great burden from people (women, mostly) who previously had to slave over a heavy mortar and pestle just to crush enough corn for a bowl of grits, or pound enough wheat for a loaf of bread.

Visiting a historic place like the old Yates Mill, just a few miles south of Raleigh, is a helpful reminder of how far humankind has come from our hunter-gatherer and early agrarian days, with innovations in technology making some aspects of life far less tedious and burdensome.

Viewing a scenic millpond against the riotous panoply of God’s handiwork stirs even deeper levels of the soul: the confluence of divine creation and human ingenuity in an earth-friendly setting is a welcome sight and a fitting reminder of how beautiful life can be when the creator and the created work together.

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