Where Does the Water Come From and More Importantly….
…where does it go?
That was the question we asked ourselves at the beginning of June 10th. Just how was water used at the Cliff mill and what was their source? Did they use seasonal runoff from up above the bluff behind them? Did they run a water race from a dammed pond a 1/4 mile to the west? Or did they pump water from underground (or the mine) via a sump or well near the mill?
To test these possibilities, Dr. Scarlett brought to the site a bottle of green dye. The idea was to drop the contents of the bottle in the seasonal run-off creek that runs behind the mill (it originates at the top of the bluff and runs underneath the large rock pile abutting the bluff before exiting at its base) and see where the dye ends up. This small creek winds around for 30 meters or so behind the mill and then disappears in a sink just at the edge of a stone foundation wall that housed the mill’s boiler(s). We believed that the water flowed under the mill here and then came out again just under the large wood beam supported with stone unearthed in 101.T2 and exposed just to the west. Water can be seen trickling out from under this exposed beam after every rain, and its flow creates a green, mossy rivulet running down the length of the mill remains all summer long.
When we excavated 101.T6, we found water gushing out at less than 50 cm depth. We figured the dye would be seen here as well in no time. By measuring the time it would take to reach here we figured we could estimate its speed and volume. Unfortunately, we were not able to make these calculations because the timer never stopped.
Whether due to the volume of water that exists under the mill diluting the dye or maybe just the filtering effects of the stamp sand itself, the dye never made it out from under the mill. Therefore, no timing of the flow rate. We would have to try again with more dye later, but for now the mystery of the Cliff’s water supply had to remain unsolved.