OLD STONE WINDMILL
Winter Harbor, Mathews County
Built c. 1800; destroyed early 20th century
Photograph: Robert Lancaster, Virginia Homes and Churches (1915)
Windmills once dotted the exposed shorelines of colonial Virginia, adding an old-world quality to the landscape.
Intricately balanced and durable structures that had been developed in medieval Europe, they functioned well in Tidewater
Virginia and along the Eastern Shore when positioned on wind-swept promontories, such as those that shelter inlets.
Useful to sailors as landmarks, they were sometimes entered on late colonial maps. Some were built of masonry;
some of wood. Most were built after the turn into the 19th century when wheat replaced tobacco as the principal
crop of the region and additional mills of all types were needed. Mathews County was at one time supplied with flour
from ten wind and two tide mills; only one water-powered grist mill was in operation there because of the remarkable
flatness of the land. Accordingly, mill operation in Mathews was unaffected by drought that could cripple other regions.
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