Lewis Reed Photos: Black Rock Mill, 1905
Looking back at photography from the past is a fascinating experience for me. I have no formal history training, just a general interest in local history where I grew up. This special post is a part of a new blog feature called, “Rockville’s Past Through the Lens of Lewis Reed”. It doesn’t have anything to do with Reed Brothers Dodge, but it does have a lot to do with it’s founder, Lewis Reed. With photography for a hobby, one that began even before automobiles were around, Lewis Reed had amassed an extensive collection of photographs from historical locations in Maryland, Washington, DC and Virginia.
With that said, I will not try to be an historian; I will simply highlight some photos and supply a few sentences of context. I will begin with some images of Black Rock Mill … through the lens of Lewis Reed.
Black Rock Mill was built by Thomas Hillary and has stood along the banks of Great Seneca Creek as a landmark since its construction in 1815-1816. The mill was in working operation for over a hundred years until a flood in 1920 destroyed a dam on Seneca Creek and damaged the mill. Today, it a unique survivor of the many mills in Montgomery County harnessing the water-power of the creeks to grind wheat and corn into flour. It is one of only two mills standing in Montgomery County Maryland. (click on images to enlarge)
As far as can be determined, Lewis Reed’s collection of Black Rock Mill photographs are probably some of the earliest known.
Lewis Reed was a well-known photographer in the county and many of his early photographs are now part of the Montgomery County Historical Society photo archives. The Jane C. Sween Library was recently given a collection of 280 glass plate negatives, showing Montgomery County in the early 20th century.
A photo taken by Lewis Reed appeared below in an undated Montgomery County Courier newspaper.
For now, the mill sits idle but majestic on the Seneca Creek, a reminder of a long time ago. Black Rock Mill is owned by MCPS and is open to the public during daylight hours. There are also hiking trails all around it since it sits within the parks system. This is a very large structure and is one of the best preserved old mills in Montgomery County. It also sits directly alongside a creek and the interior of the building has flood markers on the walls. At least one flood took over 2/3 of the building.
Directions: From Germantown, go south on Germantown Road/Md 118 for 2.5 miles, turn right onto Black Rock Road and go about 3 miles to the mill on the right at Great Seneca Creek. The mill is located in Seneca Creek State Park.