The Quest at Ben Thresher’s Mill

Barnet, VT
Difficulty: Easy
Special Features: Historical
Walking Conditions: Indoor
Duration: :45
Season: May-Oct
Bring: Flashlight, Pencil


It’s like Ben left for lunch, leaving this incredible reliquary of 19th century industry.


From I-91 get off at Exit 18. Head west on West Barnet Rd. Pass the Barnet School on Kid Row, pass Barnet Center Road, and keep going until you get to a yellow building that says "Ben Thresher's Mill" on it. You may park in the lot just beyond the mill. Ben's Mill is open weekends from 11 am until 3 pm from Memorial Day through Columbus Day Weekend.

Clues and Map

You can find the clues and map to this quest in Best of Valley Quest.


  1. Go down the stairs from the parking lot. Take a left to the mighty Stevens River. Look at the dam! Wood, metal, bars and chains flowing that once held back the water.  See how much lower the water is now.  It is fascinating but do not look too long or your adventure will be gone.
  2. Take a 180-degree turn to your right with a wooden water tub in your sight. Ben used to make these tubs for horses and cows. Keep looking down and you will find a plaque.  Read the history on the plaque and then turn back.
  3. Straight ahead up a granite step into Ben Thresher’s Mill. Just inside is a door that holds a sharp up and down rusty saw. Climb this staircase to the second floor to find something that was used to haul.  Three boards attach this crane to the wall.  The crane brought up through the door, wagons, wheels, sleighs and more.
  4. In the same room can be found small and tall wagon wheels—all round!
  5. Listen for the river. Follow the sound. Then take the stairs that lead you down. Take a sharp right up three steps to the apple chute.  This is where when families used to bring apples to press. The mill power made cider to drink…and created a sticky mess.
  6. Go back down the steps and make a sharp left. Look up high to see a message from Ben that he may have carved with a hot iron. On this plaque Ben gives his opinion about marriage and a wife.
  7. Turn 135 degrees to find a six- spoke black iron wheel with a red stripe and a lever under it. The water flows from the penstock to the turbine with a push or pull of the lever. This is the wheel, which controlled the waterpower that would run the machines by the hour.
  8. Heading downstream on a floor beam, pass through a door. Find an anvil in the blacksmith’s shop. In here a smith would bend, mend and tend metal. The fire and hammer would forge the iron that shaped shovels, rakes and wheels.
  9. Walk upstream on a floor beam. Think of the smithy of old with a gleam in your eye. Turn 90 degrees right under a stovepipe. Turn left and you will see a machine with a wagon wheel on the bottom and top: this band saw has a long thin blade. Both ends of the saw are connected in a circle and the saw goes round and around to create a ring that will take you to town.
  10. Continue on two paces. The planer is a helpful tool, it smoothes away the board’s rough faces. Its power comes from the water as it falls over the river’s ledges and steeper places. If you look out the window you can see the source of power.
  11. Walk straight ahead three steps. On your left rhombuses, diamonds and triangles appear in an iron lattice pattern. This “cutting off” saw was used to cut wood to length for very little pay. Clearly, math was used in this mill every single day.
  12. Take 2 steps forward and turn left, study the ripper of Ben’s time. The ripper rips boards into different widths. A single blade sticks out like the quill of a porcupine.
  13. Move close to the chimney and view the jointer. The jointer has two semi circles and a wheel with five snake spokes. It angles the edge of the boards for folks.
  14. Turn right toward the river. On your left pass the sander and the duplicating lathe and then you will find the stairs that lead you down to walls of stone. Watch your head and watch your step especially if you’re tall and not alone! Turn right. Look for the penstock that looks like a huge silo lying on its side. The many bolts in the cement hold back water. The water waits to bring power to the turbine. Hiram Allen has plans to build a new, working penstock.
  15. Now look to your left and walk over to the cider press. The Northeast Kingdom was once rich with many thousands of apples trees. Folks had apples pressed at Ben Thresher’s Mill with this very Hess Press.
  16. Turn back to the stairs but don’t go up; walk past to the fire breathing boiler. From there you will see a big pipe with two huge holes. The puzzle unfolds. The round fitting matches the fit of the penstock hole. Imagine the strength of the water…that turns the turbine…which turns the shaft…which turns the wheel… turning the belts that move the gears.
  17. Travel back to the steam making dragon from Osweago, NY and answer the following questions. See how much you’ve learned…and try to find our treasure!


Here’s where Ben pressed apples to make  ___   ___   ___   ___   ___


Ben was a miller, wainwright, wheelwright & a   ___ ___  ___  ___  ___  ___  ___ ___  ___  ___


The river running behind this mill is called the  ___  ___  ___  ___  ___  ___  ___


This boiler was made in  ___  ___  ___  ___  ___  ___  ___, NY


The two main materials Ben worked with were iron and   ___  ___  ___  ___


This thing was a ___  ___  ___  ___ -breathing boiler


This place is called Ben Thresher’s ___  ___  ___  ___


Ben’s mill is powered by  ___  ___  ___  ___  ___


The ___  ___  ___  ___  ___ lifted heavy items through the 2nd floor door


The ___  ___  ___  ___  ___  ___ rips boards into different widths


Families came here to make juice using the cider  ___  ___  ___  ___  ___


The last letter of Ben’s last name is  ___


The blacksmith would hammer with a hammer on his big, black  ___  ___  ___  ___  ___


So where is the treasure box?  Look behind these words:


____  ____  ____  ____         ____  ____  ____  ____       _____  _____  _____   _____  _____

13      7       1          3             6          10     4         9              8          5         12         2         11


Sign in and tell us you solved our Quest…and learned all about Ben Thresher’s Mill!


Created by the Barnet School Fourth Graders, Spring 2005.