19 December, 2011

Historic Banning Mills

I stayed at the Lodges at Historic Banning Mills in Georgia.  The location once had water-powered mills that ran a cotton gin and cotton spinning machines.  Here is the shell of the spinning mill building:


This is one of the dams, now washed out after a flood.  At the left there are two lines of stone wall; these are walls of a mill race that channeled water to the mills.  It's now a walking path, and you walk through the lock that controlled water flow.



If I correctly caught the narration of the Banning Mills documentary, wool, not just cotton, was spun at this site with water power to make Confederate military uniforms.  I posted once before, after reading Massey's Ersatz in the Confederacy, about the abrupt change in conditions in the American South during their civil war when there were trade embargoes and disruption of transportation lines.  Local and regional production became important, and so did the power generation (or hand power), infrastructure and tools, know-how, labour, and supplies at hand.  So different from today where these things are remote from our experience.

Here is a walking wheel that was found on the property.  The spindle and leather bearings are missing.  The spinning wheel is on display in the lodge, assembled with the wheel on the wrong side in order to fit on the mantlepiece.


In the gift shop you can buy a miniature bale of cotton for a souvenir.

There are trails in the woods and along the creek, with amphitheatres, picnic tables, and pavilions.  At the main building there is a deck with rocking chairs.  The weather was warm enough to be outside in comfort and I found some good spots in which to spin, knit, weave, and read fibre arts books.  

I think Historic Banning Mills is a place with potential for knitting retreats.  The only issue I could see handspinners, knitters, dyers, and weavers coming up against is the steep slope of the terrain.  The slope is an asset for the scenic views and the zip lines where you zip through the tree canopy riding a pulley on a cable high off the ground.  However, the stairs down to the creek and down to the conference rooms might be a barrier to access for some.


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