A Country Scene

I don’t often show such bucolic pictures, but once in a while they make a nice a change of pace. In 1900: a country stream, an old mill, some trees…

It’s the Bronx River, and the mill is the Lorillard Snuff Mill, while used the water power from the river to grind tobacco into snuff. The site still looks much like this: it has remained undeveloped because it’s in the middle of the New York Botanical Garden. There’s a good deal of luck involved: the Lorillard family had owned most of the land that is now the garden and did not develop it, despite having a working mill – as picturesque as it is, an industrial site – in it. The Bronx River was also the obvious candidate for fresh water for New York in the 1830s, before the larger and more distant Croton River was chosen instead. So this could have turned into a bunch of factories or been flooded by a dam, but neither happened.

If “Lorillard” isn’t a name you associate with tobacco, operas you’re more familiar with the cigarette brands it owned: Newport, Maverick, Old Gold, and Kent, among others. They were more common and less quaint than snuff.

Besides the fact I like the pretty picture, OSE has a connection to the mill: Marie worked for years on its restoration.

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