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BLOG: See a working grist mill in action-- and enjoy breakfast

Bil Bowden


So, you've seen York County Parks' Wallace-Cross Mill

a few times and  Miller's Heritage Day and Open House there is already on the calendar. But your family enjoys seeing the water spin the wheel that turns the gears that turn the grinding wheels that grind the corn that-- and on and on.  And the kids still want more.

At Burnt Cabins Grist Mill

and Campgrounds in Fulton County, they can watch the working mill turn out the flour and pancake mix and then enjoy it for breakfast the next day. Or, better yet, attend October 15's Fulton Fall Folk Festival

at the mill where a breakfast of freshly ground buckwheat or regular pancake mix will be served all day. It's complete, of course, with locally made syrup. You'll join about 1,500 others at the campground's pavilion, dining in the shadow of a mill that was put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.


The origin of Burnt Cabins, from

Early settlers cabins in this vicinity were burned by Provincial Forces, 1750, to satisfy Indian protests against white trespassers on their lands.

York County boasted 300 mills at one point but most are history, some fallen down or burned, demolished or repurposed into homes or warehouses. Wallace-Cross Mill is still in operating condition, but not a true working mill.  The Burnt Cabins Grist Mill, on the other hand, will be in working mode all fall and winter, grinding out flour.

Greg and Dawn Harnish are originally from southern Lancaster County, and 11 years ago saw an advertisement for a campground sale auction. They bid, and they bought it. They packed up their two young children and left for Fulton County, about 120 miles away. Since then, the family has used its hard working farming background to their advantage, buying grain, grinding it into flour or pancake mix and selling it at their on-site store and other retail outlets. Locally, Brown's Orchards

in Loganville and Darrenkamp's

in the Newberry Commons sells the mill's products.


The Harnishes live in the mill master's house across the street from the 40' x 50' four-story mill and spend much of their time at the store, a log structure built in 1772 to accompany a tiny 1765 mill that burned. Visitors might find the Harnish family at the cash register, maybe offering suggestions about which product to buy. (Pumpkin is always a favorite, and the skillet cornbread another.) And there's apple, a scone mix, sweet potato, cornmeal, whole wheat, oat scone and a few others.ID=89258902

Groups can make appointments to tour the mill, or join the scheduled tours on August 28 and September 4 at 11 a.m. After that, the mill wheels start spinning with water from the Aughwick Creek (from nearby Cowans Gap State Park) and work shifts into high gear, grinding grains and packaging the flour through the fall and winter. The store and the campground remain open.

ID=89258906ID=89258912Burnt Cabins Grist Mill and Campgrounds is about 80 miles from York,  no matter which route is taken. While the Pennsylvania Turnpike offers a quicker arrival, a leisurely drive across Route 30 to Fort Loudon and then north past Cowans Gap State Park on U.S. 522 offers prettier scenery and is cheaper (no turnpike fees).

Fulton County

calls itself "Pennsylvania's Best Kept Secret", and truly has plenty to see and do. One is a rather unique journey throughout Fulton County, the Frontier Barn Quilt Trail


From the website-- 

A Barn Quilt is a large painted quilt square mounted on or directly painted typically on the gable end or side of a barn, business, garden shed or house. Typically the quilt square is positioned to be visible from a road and viewed as people drive past. Quilt block designs can be from traditional geometric patterns used by quilters or designed by the individual. In many cases patterns used by families, as well as modern variations of traditional quilt blocks. Most barn quilt blocks are 8×8, 4x4 or 2x2 depending on the size of the structure and distance from the road. Typically they are painted on MDO sign board and are affixed to the structure to be visible year round.

Also in Fulton County, check out Huntingdon's Lincoln Caverns

, Visitors take a one-hour tour and the caverns are open all year.  Admission is $15 for adults.ID=89258918

The Rockhill Trolley Museum

is about 14 miles north of Burnt Cabins, and is open through October.  Visitors take a three mile ride on a trolley, like those that operated in York. Cost is $8 for adults.

The Swigart Auto Museum

's collection numbers about 150 cars, with 35 on display at one time. Admission is $8 for adults.