‘Mill as Muse’ celebrates beauty in nature, history

Best in show-artist in 2013 Mill as Muse contest

Sandy Winzenz won best in show for artwork this year.

Yates Mill may be the centerpiece, but Wake County’s Historic Yates Mill County Park is full of eye-pleasing treasures. If we ever need a reminder of that, we can turn to this year’s winners of the Mill as Muse contest.

The park staff organizes the Mill as Muse contest every winter, allowing local photographers and artists of all ages to show how they’re inspired by the park’s historic and natural landscapes.

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Ring-(gear)-ing in the new year

On the surface – just like the surface of Yates Mill Pond – winter seems like a calm, quiet time at Yates Mill. It’s anything but.

The waterwheel, ring gear and pinion gear

The ring gear where it connects to the pinion gear. Photo by Hunter Krauss

Yates Mill Associates closes the mill to tours during December, January and February for a number of reasons. For one thing, it’s hard on the antique machinery of this old factory to run it during freezing weather. Also, these three months are a crucial time for us to make repairs to Yates Mill. You already read about our new roof. But minor repairs are underway every winter – year-round, for that matter.

Recently, we had to replace a piece of the ring gear – the ring of cast iron teeth that circle the waterwheel.

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Yates Mill’s volunteers are ‘a-maize-ing’!

Yates Mill is standing and open to the public because of a great partnership between Yates Mill Associates, Wake County and North Carolina State University. But when you visit the mill, the people who make your visit memorable are our wonderful corps of park volunteers.

Prof. Zonderman talks about the yeoman farmer

Professor Zonderman tells us about Yates Mill's early customers

Recently, we joined the staff of Historic Yates Mill County Park to honor the dedication and hard work of all these volunteers. Those who reached milestones of hours worked or years of service received gifts from the park staff, who also paid special tribute to some extra-special people who give up their free time so you can enjoy visiting the mill and surrounding park.

Park staff honored Gary Hunter — a longtime volunteer who recently joined the board of Yates Mill Associates — as the 2012 Volunteer of the Year. We join them in thanking Gary for his dedication, cheerful attitude, welcoming demeanor and enthusiasm!

The group was treated to a presentation by David Zonderman, a professor and associate department head in History at NCSU. As the weekly mill tours have been focusing on the “yeoman farmers” who made up much of Yates Mill’s clientele in its early days, Dr. Zonderman explained to us just what a yeoman farmer was — how he and his family lived and interacted with their community.

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Yates Mill – inspiring artists for generations

E.B. Sternes - 1900

E.B. Sternes was inspired to paint this picture of Yates Mill in 1900. How do you see our mill today?

Yates Mill has many admirable qualities. It’s a historic treasure, a cultural touchstone and – as anyone knows after visiting on on a balmy weekend in spring and autumn – it’s breathtakingly beautiful.

Our mill increasingly serves as a backdrop for wedding and engagement photos, family portraits and many more milestones. It’s also a favorite subject in its own right for photographers and other visual artists.

If you’ve taken a photo or drawn a picture of Yates Mill that makes you especially happy, why not be recognized for your work? Submit your work to the park’s seventh annual “Mill as Muse” contest!

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Remembering our dear friend Mabel

Mabel Dorsey at the park

Mabel Dorsey at Historic Yates Mill County Park last April, with (l-r) program director Rebeccah Cope, head miller William Robbins and Mabel's aide, Dee Simpkins.

Many of you who were involved in the early days of Yates Mill Associates will remember the dynamo that was Mabel Dorsey. As one of our organization’s founders, Mabel was an essential member of the team that came together to save and permanently protect the unique community treasure that we enjoy today in Yates Mill.

We’re sorry to say that Mabel passed away early on Christmas day at the age of 94. Her survivors include her two daughters, three grandchildren and a great-granddaughter. She also leaves many friends, colleagues and admirers – including all of us at Yates Mill Associates.

We’re planning an appropriate tribute to be placed in the Finley Center at Historic Yates Mill County Park. In the meantime, be sure to read her obituary, which will give you a wonderful flavor of Mabel’s full life and the impact she made on so many people.

As she did in life, Mabel continues to give after her death by asking that memorial gifts be made to causes she supported. They are:

  • Yates Mill Associates, PO Box 10512, Raleigh 27605-0512
  • LL Polk House Foundation, c/o Peter Daniel, 15 Furches Street, Raleigh 27607
  • Farmville Community Cemetery, c/o Shelby Underwood, 2009 Everett Dowdy Road, Sanford 27330


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