Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites

The present Hamburg Mill and its dam were built in 1921; however this was not the first mill located at this site.

You can see the original mill still standing in these pictures taken during the construction of the new concrete dam.



  Grist Mill History
After the close of the Revolutionary War the Warthen family moved to Washington County from North Carolina in the 1790s. They acquired this land through grants received for their part in the war. The Warthen family built the first mill in Washington County in 1825 just 75 feet upstream from the present mill site on the Little Ogeechee river. At that time the area was named "Little Shoals" to distinguish it from "Shoals" located just 4 miles away on the Ogeechee river. With much optimism he renamed his holdings after the bustling market and mill town of Hamburg, South Carolina.

At that time a now extinct town named Georgetown was located six miles downstream from Warthen's new mill. Georgetown was a major frontier trading post. Indians from as far as Alabama would travel to Georgetown to trade and barter. Georgetown was a natural outlet for the produce of the first Hamburg Mill.

The first mill at Hamburg ran until the early 1900s. T.B. Rachels and his brothers purchased the property around 1895. Later the property was acquired by Oscar Harrison and then sold to the Gilmore brothers who became a prominent Washington County family. The Gilmore brothers built the present mill, dam, and cotton gin in 1921-22. The brothers also farmed much of the surrounding area. The mill was set up to grind both flour and corn meal. The Gilmore borthers later sold the property to the Hall family whose members still live in the area. Eventually the property was sold to Tarbutton and Rawlings who deeded the property to the State of Georgia in 1968.

During the active years of ginning and milling the area of Hamburg Mill were both work and community centers, and still remains a wonderful place to socialize.

Prior to the invention of the steam engine, the only practical alternatives to muscle power were the windmill and the watermill. Horizontal water wheels were known in Greece as early as 100 B.C. 

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