Many old mills were powered by overshot water wheels, picturesque, but difficult to maintain. Prater's Mill, however, was powered by three more modern underwater turbines. One of these, a Leffel-type patented in 1862, is still completely operational and continues to power one of the original pieces of milling equipment.
The turbine is located at the bottom of the forebay (pool) below. As gates around the circumference of the turbine are opened, water flows in the turbine casing, spinning the turbine wickets (blades) and the large shaft that extends from the water up inside the mill.
Water power was also used in the early 20th century to operate an electric dynamo which generated enough electricity to provide lighting in the mill. In the days prior to rural electrification in the area, Prater's Mill was innovative.