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Cooper Gristmill, located on 14 acres, was built in 1826 and is one of the remaining restored water-powered mills in New Jersey. It is listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places. It is a living example of the state’s transition from an agricultural to an industrial economy.
Begin your visit with a stop at the Visitors Center and explore the exhibits that focus on the area’s history. Become acquainted with former residents and the social, agricultural, and technological aspects of life in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Cooper Gristmill was once the heart of a thriving industrial community and played a vital role in the area’s development during the Industrial Revolution.
Your journey continues on a guided 45-minute tour with a master miller. In period costume, the master miller explains the history and operation of the mill and the vibrant community once called Milltown. The miller will actually run the mill’s restored machinery so you can watch the massive water wheel power shafts and gears in action. Witness the amazing power of the Black River as it is harnessed to turn a steel water wheel that grinds grains into flour using two sets of the massive 2,000 pound millstones. These two huge grinding stones can produce up to 800 pounds of flour per hour. Inside the mill, you can see the amazing technology at work hearing, smelling, feeling, and seeing the inner workings of the mill!
Complete your visit by taking home some organize stone-ground flour and cornmeal produced at the Gristmill in an authentic flour sac with muffin and bread recipes printed on the bag. Packages are available for a donation.
Host your next formal or informal family gathering, or corporate event at Cooper Gristmill. The Gristmill offers the option of reserving a charming Carriage House surrounded by a lovely landscape. For more information, please call 973.326.7631.
The Friends of Fosterfields and Cooper Gristmill assist the Park Commission in developing and maintaining a high level of excellence at Fosterfields Living Historical Farm and Cooper Gristmill. The Friends also promote and sponsor a public education program of historical and agricultural projects and activities. Members enjoy discounts on general admission, advance notice of activities, and a free subscription to the Gazette newsletter. For more information on The Friends of Fosterfields and Cooper Gristmill, or to become a member, please visit wwwfriendsoffosterfields.org or call 973.326.7645.
Digital trail maps of the Black River trails are available online.
The Spring and Summer months at the Cooper Gristmill bring a variety of special event programs to enhance your visit to the Gristmill opening in April. Special programs include Born to Be Shorn sheep shearing in May, People Power Day in June, Sail, Sail Your Boat and Muffin Baking Workshop in July and August. Stop by the Visitors Center to explore the exhibits. Of course, you can plan a delightful afternoon by the stream with a fishing pole or bring a blanket and your favorite book.
The Special Events
page highlights programs and activities, offering unique and fun opportunities for visitors of all ages.
The Morris County Park Commission acquired Cooper Gristmill in 1973, and opened it to the public in October 1978. The stretch of the Black River on which the Cooper Gristmill is situated is well-suited for the operation of water-powered mills.
In the 1760’s, Isaiah Younglove began a flour milling operation that lasted until 1788. Over the years, the mill went through several owners, with the present mill purchased by Retired General Nathan Cooper. He purchased the original mill in 1825 for $750, which included a gristmill and sawmill powered by two wooden water wheels. In 1826, General Cooper built the four-story gristmill that is standing today. Throughout the 19th century, the gristmill ground primarily wheat, but also corn, and other grains. With four sets of millstones connected by elevators to grain cleaners and flour sifters, the mill ground up to 10 tons of grain each day. This mill remained in operation until the early 20th century. Modern turbines installed in the 1870s replaced the mill’s two original wooden waterwheels. Today, the mill runs by an all-steel-Fitz Company waterwheel.
During late 2005 to the early 2006, James Kricker of Rondout Woodworking conducted repairs, fabrication, and installation of historic mill machinery on the second and third floors of the Cooper Gristmill. The goal was to complete the restoration and installation of the historic machinery to show and interpret the complete mill process from grain receiving, to cleaning, grinding, sifting, and finally bagging. This main work included the installation of the main drive and the power-train equipment that powers the machinery. New plank flooring was installed on the third floor and stairs up to the third floor. A dedication ceremony for the completed restoration was held in 2006, as part of the mill's Annual Black River Day.
Cooper Gristmill is open April 2 through June 25, Saturdays only 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Last tour begins at 3:30 p.m.
Cooper Gristmill is open July 2 through August 31, Wednesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, 12 noon to 5 p.m. Last tour begins at 3:30 p.m.
Cooper Gristmill is open September 3 through October 30, Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 12 noon to 5 p.m. Last tour begins at 3:30 p.m.
For more information, 908.879.5463.
The Historic Sites of the Morris County Park Commission received an operating support grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State.