Cooper Gristmill

66 Route 24
Chester Township, NJ 07930

T: (908) 879 - 5463

Hours:
M-F: trails open 8am to sunset
Sat-Sun: trails open 8am to sunset

Directions

Amenities

A fun and hands-on peek into the industrial history of Morris County in the 1800s.

Located on 14 acres along the Black River, the Gristmill is the only restored water-powered mill in New Jersey, and listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places. It’s a living example of the state’s transition from an agricultural to an industrial economy. Costumed staff lead guided tours of the mill, running restored machinery to harness the power of the Black River to grind grains, using two sets of massive 2,000-pound mills

Plan Your Visit

Admission to the Cooper Gristmill begins at the Visitors Center, where you can explore an exhibition on the region’s history before beginning your guided tour. Then you will head to the Mill (at the far end of the parking lot) to see the water-powered mill in operation much as it did more than a century ago.

General Admission: $5.00 per person, excluding special programming and events.

Season: April 1 – October 31

Hours: Fridays and Sundays, 10am – 4pm.

Last admission: 3:00 p.m.

General admission includes a guided tour and demonstration lead by the head miller, as well as an exhibition on the region’s history. Bags of flour are available for a donation.

Part of a larger network of more than 1,000 acres of preserved county parkland along the Black River and adjacent areas, a multi-mile series of trails connect the Cooper Gristmill to the Elizabeth D. Kay Environmental Center, Bamboo Brook Outdoor Education Center and Willowwood Arboretum. Hiking along the trails is free.

Before You Arrive:

  • Explore our website’s calendar of events or follow us on social media for special event, demonstration, program, and tour dates.
  • Dress with weather appropriate clothing and footwear to enjoy the Patriots’ Path trail and scenic Black River. Trailhead is located behind the Cooper Gristmill.

Please Remember:

  • Take photos! Photography for personal use is allowed, provided it does not disrupt other visitors. Commercial photography and filming, and similar types of photography require a permit. To obtain a permit contact tours@morrisparks.net
  • Click here to learn a few tips about sharing this historical, natural space with each other!
  • Read notices posted on the trail head.
  • Dogs must remain on a 6’ leash as per Article III, Section 3 of the Morris County Park Commission’s Rules and Regulations. Pets are not permitted within the buildings.
  • For safety purposes, all trail users must stay on signed/blazed trails or walkways as shown on the trail map.
  • Smoking, including the use of e-cigarettes is strictly prohibited.
Maps

Large – 11″ x 17″ (1 page)

Letter – 8.5″ x 11″ (2 pages, split)

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Programs & Activities
  • Hands-on History
  • Guided Tours
  • Special Programs
  • Intimate Event Space
History

The Cooper Gristmill is a working, partially restored water-powered flourmill built in 1826 by Retired General Nathan Cooper, a leading citizen of Chester, New Jersey. Cooper bought the property in 1825 from Isaiah Younglove. Cooper replaced Younglove’s aging mill with the newest technology, including four sets of millstones, numerous elevators and conveyors for moving grain and flour, various machines for cleaning and sifting, and bins for storage.  The mill could grind up to 10 tons of grain a day. Two overshot waterwheels generated power, using water from the nearby Black River. The mill was state-of-the-art for 1826, and a centerpiece of the rural, thriving village of Milltown.

Numerous improvements were made to the Mill during the mid-19th century, the most significant being the replacement of the original vertical water wheels with new efficient horizontal turbines. None of these improvements could keep Cooper’s mill competitive with America’s rapidly expanding milling industry consolidating in the Midwest. By 1913, the local paper reported that Cooper’s Gristmill, “the last operating gristmill in Chester Township, was about to be discontinued.”

From its closing in 1913 until its purchase 50 years later by the Morris County Park Commission, the Gristmill served a variety of functions including a place for square dances and storage. By 1963, much of its roof and interior structure were severely deteriorated, but the solid stone walls stood soundly in tribute to their original builders. In 1978, the Cooper Gristmill was again running and open to the public. Today, wheat, corn, rye, and other seeds are ground to exacting specifications.