Visit An Ancient Steam-Powered Sawmill: Sturgeon’s Mill
If you’ve never seen a 16-foot redwood log turned into lumber by an ancient steam-powered sawmill, your chance to do so is coming up!
Sebastopol’s Sturgeon’s Mill, one of the world’s last steam-powered sawmills that still uses its original equipment, has two free demonstration weekends in the next two months: September 6-7 and October 11-12.
Only a few demonstrations are given each year, and they’re really a treat. The mill is surrounded by a forest of redwood and other trees, and the property is loaded with all kinds of antique equipment. A visit here is a fun-filled trip back into time—and one that’s suitable for all ages.
As a non-profit working museum, the mill fires up its double-acting 19th-century Atlas Steam Engine a few times a year to offer rare demonstrations of how huge logs were once “put through the mill.”
“People that come here love watching a log being sawed up” said Bob Sturgeon, whose grandfather, Wade Sturgeon, built the mill a few miles away in 1913. “The second thing they like is what powers the saw, an 1860s steam engine.”
It took a year to build the mill, Sturgeon says, and the first lumber was produced in 1914. “Then in 1923 it was dismantled and brought here, to its present location. It took another year to put it up.”
Wade Sturgeon created Woodland Gardens filled with native and exotic plants, including many varieties of roses, rhododendrons, and camellias. He also created beautiful lily pools planted with water lilies. The garden eventually became overgrown by weeds and fallen tree litter, but in recent years volunteers have worked to restore it, along with the mill and its outbuildings, to their former glory.
“Restoration is never-ending,” said Sturgeon. “Right now we’re constructing outbuildings for equipment, as well as a garden shed. We use the lumber we mill. We always need lumber for repairing the mill, and we sell excess lumber to the public.”
Aside from the mill and the garden, you might enjoy the small museum with its ancient hand tools and other artifacts, logging trucks, the mill office with its manual typewriters and other paraphernalia, the blacksmith shop, and lots of photographs. You’ll also find picnic tables beneath the trees, and you’re welcome to bring your own lunch.
What you need to know:
- What: Demonstrations at Sturgeon’s Mill
- Where: Sturgeon’s Mill, 2150 Green Hill Road, Sebastopol 95472. See the location of Sturgeon’s Mill on the map
- When: : September 6-7 and October 11-12, from 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m. daily.
- Parking: Demonstrations are popular, so park in the large parking area off the main road—just a short walking distance from the mill.
Written by Sonoma Insider Suzie Rodriguez