Pierce Plantation1820-1840Cultivated fields and orchards spread out on the more than 1,200-acre tract above the creek. The spring house, family home, distillery, and flour mill remains as evidence of this large working estate along Rock Creek. In 1794, Isaac Pierce, an enterprising millwright, acquired a large tract of land surrounding his mill site. Within two decades he established a diversified plantation, adding a saw mill, a distillery, and a new and larger flour mill to his farming activities. A working household of 26 personas was required to maintain this successful operation. A log dam was constructed above Pierce Mill to provide a reliable source of power for the mills. Water PowerWooden Wheel and Flowing StreamThe leisurely flow of creek water was diverted to the mill race where it was channeled and delivered to the water wheel. The wheel, placed in motion by the weight of the water that filled the wheel buckets, generated the 20 to 40 horsepower needed to keep the mill's wooden machinery and heavy millstones in motion.The illustrated breast wheel closely resembles the original water wheel used to power the mill. The momentum of the creek's flow and the weight of the water-filled buckets generated the mill's power. Periodically,
destructive torrents of high creek water would wash away the timber crib dams, and milling operations would be interrupted until the dams were reconstructed. Rock Creek ParkRock Creek Park, with its 1,754 acres of urban forest, offers many recreational opportunities and programs. Tours of Pierce Mill and guided nature hikes are frequently scheduled. An extensive system of marked trails crisscrosses the park, including hiking, bridle trails, and a physical fitness exercise course. There are picnic sites and recreational fields for many sports. You may wish to read the posted calendar of seasonal activities and regulations governing park use. Park Rangers and U.S. Park Police are on duty to answer questions and help you to enjoy your visit.