Wind, water and animals were the first means to drive machines. Among the first machines were pumps for the irrigation of fields and mills to grind grain. Over the centuries the machinery of the mills became increasingly complex. So complex in fact, the common farmer suspected some kind of magic behind it. Thus there is a wealth of lores and tales connected to mills.
For William Blake, dark satanic mills were the English forges for the production of weapons of war and destruction. The mill in this panorama is neither dark nor satanic. It, on the contrary, provided flour for the bread of many generations.
During the run of centuries, many different mills stood at the location of the "Schlossmühle" (castle mill) in Umkirch near Freiburg. The mill located here in 1750 was in such an exceedingly bad condition that the local squire feared it could not possibly endure the next flood. And so the building was consequently demolished.
A local named Blasi Waldvogel, his wife Catharina Spiegelhalter and their three sons built today's mill. The project however, was beyond the financial means of the family and so foreclosure was the eventual consequence.
After many changes in ownership, the Grand Duchess Stephanie of Baden bought the mill in 1826. In the following centuries, again the mill saw many different owners, but it was in constant use.
In 1922 the water-wheel was replaced by a turbine but in 1978 the mill was closed down for good and, during the following decades, the building was abandoned and left to decay. In 1998 the local authority bought the mill.
In 2000 the society “Umkircher Mühlenfreunde” (Friends of the Umkirch Mill) was founded by members of the local community and started to collect donations for the mill. During the following years the members of the society worked really hard to save it. On 26th September 2009 - with the installation of a new water-wheel - the restoration of the mill was finally accomplished, also including a small kitchen and bakery.
Nowadays the mill is an important witness for our children on how our ancestors prepared their daily bread. Therefore, should you happen to visit it, chances are pretty high you'll meet a school class or two on excursion.
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