During the 1800's, there were numerous windmills in the outer Cape, many used for pumping ocean water to evaporation vats to produce salt. The main surviving mill in this area is the Paine Windmill in Eastham. It was used for grinding grain rather than in a salt works, and is usually just called the "Eastham Mill".
The Paine Windmill has a long history. Mills were often built so that they could easily be moved from place to place, if an owner sold the mill to another miller, for example. The Paine windmill was originally built in Plymouth, around 1680. After 90 years, it was moved to Truro; the move was accomplished by floating the mill across the Cape Cod Bay using a log raft. Then after several decades in Truro, in 1793 the mill was moved by cart to the area of Salt Pond in Eastham. The mill was moved again in 1808 to its current location; this is now just off Route 6, at Samoset Road, in the Eastham Town Green park. This location had originally housed another mill owned by Nicholas Paine, the Setucket Mill.
The mill was used for grinding grain until about 1900. At that time, with electricity becoming available to grind flour in factories, mills were no longer needed, and the mill fell into disuse and disrepair. In 1928, the mill was purchased by the town of Eastham and repaired back into working condition so that it could be used as a display of historic windmills.
Because the mill was originally built in 1680, it is the oldest mill on the Cape. During the summer season, the mill is open to be viewed on Mondays - Saturdays and Sunday afternoons. In a short time, you can get a great explanation of how grist mills worked, and see the inner workings close up. There is convenient parking right at the park. Early each September, the Eastham Windmill Celebration is held here, with music, food and craft vendors, games, a talent show, a parade, vehicle shows, a road race, and more.
This mill was originally built in the Mill Hill Road area of Wellfleet, and then went out of operation around 1870 due to a fire. It was later moved the short distance to its current location on Holbrook Avenue in Wellfleet. The structure is now private property and used as a residence, and is not open for visiting at all.
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