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Joel Hill Water-Powered Sawmill - Equinunk, PA

Historic Site or District
Equinunk Historical Society

The Hill Sawmill was built by William Holbert and J. D. Branning just after the Civil War, one of many they owned in the area. Joel Hill purchased the Mill from the Holbert heirs in 1898, along with 1500 acres of timberlands and the 205 acre body of water known as Duck Harbor. The Mill remained in operation until 1974.

The sawmill was entirely powered by water. In the winter, loggers gathered timber and piled it on the hill across the road from the pond. In the spring, employees would pull the stop blocks out and the logs would roll down the hill into the pond. They were cleaned off and dragged into the mill with grabs attached to a huge rope.

Employees would raise the wooden gate in the sawmill dam and let water into the 28-inchpipe, or penstock, leading into the turbine. The turbine rotates the power take off shaft, which runs the entire mill. Originally, a water wheel was used, but it was washed away in the Pumpkin Flood of 1903. Through a series of belts and pulleys, the 54-inch saw blade is turned at 850 RPM.

The mill is open five times a year and there is much more to learn and see.

Accessibility Notes

Partially handicap accessible.

Pet Friendly Notes

Pets welcome on leash.

Time Period Represented

Late 19th century


Seasons Open

Two (2) weekends in the summer, in July and August, and the first Saturday in October. Also open by special arrangement.


No fee, donations gratefully accepted.

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