Sunlight illuminates the festive colors of bald cypress in fall foliage on Merchants Millpond, NC.
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It was first named Norfleets Millpond, formed in 1811 when Kincken Norfleet impounded Bennets Creek to create the head of water needed to drive a gristmill to grind corn. A wheat mill and sawmill were built the following year.
A hundred years later, the millpond had become the trading center of Gates County. Farmers could shop in local stores while waiting for their corn and wheat to be ground into meal and flour. They were likely served apple brandy from a nearby still. (North Carolina has a rich history of bootlegging.) The place came to be known as Merchants Millpond.
Maintenance of the mill was a communal effort. Everyone helped repair the dam when damaged by occasional flooding and each spring the locals gathered to etch new grooves in the millstones used to grind the corn and wheat. It was a festive occasion accompanied by a fish fry and probably more than a little of the apple brandy.
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