—Falling Creek Ironworks Park —
Archibald Cary established an iron forge on the south bank of Falling Creek in 1750. The Chesterfield forge, as it was known, converted pig iron into bar iron. Initially unproﬁtable and shut down, the forge would be restarted and become instrumental in producing materials for the Continental troops during the American Revolution.
Remains along the north bank of Falling Creek appear to be those of William Byrd's 17th-century grist mill, taken over by Henry Cary and then by Archibald Cary. The mill is possibly one of the few 17th-century buildings surviving in Virginia. It was named for the 18th-century Cary plantation Ampthill, which adjoined the 69-acre mill tract to the north. Ampthill Mill was typical of the larger "merchant" mills in the area at the time. It had access to ports that could ship ﬂour to Europe, the West Indies and South America and contributed to the Cary family's economic and political power.
The mill was purchased by John Watkins in the 1850s and continued to operate until about 1905. It was converted from a grist mill to processing mica for paint.
Early Mill History
The 1760s and 1770s saw commercial grist mills, called merchant mills, appear on a broad scale. Mills were located to take advantage of important
water and timber resources. Mills produced ﬂour and lumber important for building construction, food and trade. Milling was economically important to Chesterfield County and critical in the development of the settlement of the local area, state and nation. Falling Creek was the ideal site for milling due to abundant timber, water and access to major transportation routes.
Grist mills were essential to Chesterﬁelds plantation economy and supported an export industry. Decline of tobacco prices led to the rise of wheat as a cash crop. Wealthy planters operated mills to serve their needs and their neighbors. Commercial mills ground up grain for sale in city or foreign markets.
These mills served the region until the early 20th century, losing ground to larger commercial mills. They ground wheat, corn and other grains for human consumption and animal feed.
Cary's Mill ruins
Bubbly forge slag