Evans-Mumbower Mill: Nearly 300 Years of History

David Freedi

Near the gentle headwaters of the Wissahickon Creek sits a monument to the industrial revolution in America. Located at the junction of Swedesford and Township Line Roads in Upper Gwynedd, the Evans-Mumbower mill is a wonderful example of an 18th century automated water mill.


The development of the highly efficient overshot water wheel combined with the innovative use of simple machines enabled the concept of continuous operation, which greatly increased productivity.


The first mill in the Wissahickon Valley was built in 1688. Eventually, more than 50 mills clustered along the banks of the 21- mile creek. Producing such items as paper, textiles, lumber, and flour, these mills were powerful economic engines for the emerging country and generated great wealth for their owners.


The site of the Evans- Mumbower mill was part of an original land grant received by Thomas Evans in 1698. His grandson, Abraham, built a saw mill there in 1744. The current structure was built in 1835 by John and Elisa Keefe, who placed a name stone in the front wall.


Henry Mumbower bought the mill in 1856 and worked it until his death in 1892. He was noted in his obituary as an honest miller and a most excellent and popular citizen. His son, David, ran the mill until it’s closing in 1930.


The abandoned building fell into disrepair and was on the verge of collapsing when Wissahickon Trails took ownership 1987. Restoration was possible thanks to the dedicated efforts of Wissahickon Trails, many volunteers and a generous grant from John and Claire Betz. The mill has monthly open houses where the public can experience the sights and sounds of falling water powering 2,500- pound stones to grind corn into flour.


The mill also provides an education program for area fourth grade students to learn about simple machines and how factories perform work. I encourage you to visit one of our mill events and to experience history come alive.


To watch a video about the Evans-Mumbowr Mill on YouTube, click here.

Video credit: John Brady