Texas Bob Travels

San Josť Mission - Water Powered Grist Mill

San Antonio, Texas

Gate controlling the flow into the tub
Gate controlling the flow into the tub
Vertical shaft Horizontal vane water wheel
Vertical shaft Horizontal vane water wheel
Mill House
Mill House
Mills stone turned by the water wheel
Mills stone turned by the water wheel

One of the most interesting things to me at the San Josť Mission in San Antonio is the Water Powered Gristmill. Built more than two centuries ago, the gristmill continues grinding away. Park

ranger and head miller tells visitors, "We could grind 600 to 800 pounds of flour every day if we had to, just as they did years ago."

When the European Priests first arrived in Texas to build the Missions the only type of bread they found was "Corn" bread. Corn can be milled by hand but to mill the harder wheat grain required some type of mechanical mill.

A logical addition to the extensive irrigation canal system from the San Antonio River, was a water powered mill. The mill at San Josť is not a technological wonder even when compared to water powered mills of that day. A gate directed water into a deep tub. Water from the tub was throttled with a smaller gate out through a small wooden pipe onto the horizontal vanes of a water wheel attached to a vertical shaft.

The Miller controlled the speed of the mill by how much water he throttled through the throttle gate. The more water he let through, the faster the mill would turn. The less water he let through the slower the mill turned

The vertical shaft went up through the mill floor, through the stationary millstone and was attached to the upper mill stone. The upper mill stone was turned by the shaft. The miller slowly fed grain into a hopper. The hopper is like a scoop. The hopper slowly drops the grain into a hole in the center of the upper stone. The grain is ground up between the stones and comes out one side into the flour bucket.

The flour was used to make bread for everyone who lived in the Mission. If there was extra flour it was traded with the other Missions in the area.

Gristmills played an important role in frontier Texas, as they did elsewhere. Early settlers required and developed ways to turn grain into flour to make bread, the most universal of foods. Farmers grew wheat and corn for sustenance as well as profit. Large plantations had their own mills. Small communities had at least one mill-ideally no more than a day's ride from area farms. A farmer would sling a sack of corn or wheat across a horse or mule, ride to the mill, and bring home the same sack filled with meal or flour.

Mission San Josť y San Miguel de Aguayo opens daily 9-5 except for major holidays. The gristmill ordinarily operates every day, though at unscheduled times, so call ahead. A visitor's center offers an exhibit on the mill's history and a film about the mission. Admission: Free. Wheelchair accessible. Write to 2202 Roosevelt Ave., San Antonio 78210; 210/932-1001


National Park Service - San Antonio

San Antonio Visitors and Convention Bureau

San Antonio River Cruises

Related "Texas Bob" Pages

The San Antonio River

Mission San Josť y San Miguel de Aguayo (San Jose Mission)

The Alamo, The Price of Freedom - The Price of Admission

© 1998 - - R. McSpadden - All rights reserved
. . . more from texasbob.com
The information contained in this website is for general information purposes only. The information is provided by Texas Bob Media Services and while we endeavor to keep the information up to date and correct, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the website or the information, products, services, or related graphics contained on the website for any purpose. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk. In no event will we be liable for any loss or damage including without limitation, indirect or consequential loss or damage, or any loss or damage whatsoever arising from loss of data or profits arising out of, or in connection with, the use of this website. Through this website you are able to link to other websites which are not under the control of Texas Bob Media Services. We have no control over the nature, content and availability of those sites. The inclusion of any links does not necessarily imply a recommendation or endorse the views expressed within them. Every effort is made to keep the website up and running smoothly. However, Texas Bob Media Services takes no responsibility for, and will not be liable for, the website being temporarily unavailable due to technical issues beyond our control.