Excursion: Moulins Souterrains

A few photos from the underground mill at Col-des-Roches, near Le Locle in Canton Neuchâtel. If you haven't landed on this page via my main blog, please visit the post there from this post's date for more information.

A drawing depicting Col-des-Roche at the museum on site. Pretty much on the other side of the pass in the rocks is France.

The mills installed in the cave were primarily used to grind cereals. Given the climate of region, only hardy crops were viable. Here are examples of Dinkel (spelt) and Gerste (barley.)

There was also a sawmill in the cave, at the lowest part of it where the water power was the greatest. As one might imagine, getting the lumber into and out of the caves was no easy task. An attempt was made to install the sawmill outside the caves, but the losses in energy in the transmission were too great: it was put back in its original position.

A close-up of the teeth on the wheels. They were made of wood and there was an advantage to this. When a lot of water came through, such as after heavy rainfall, the increased flow delivered a lot of energy to the system. As the weakest parts of the mill, the wooden teeth broke off before any serious damage was sustained by the other parts.


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