County Life, Cultural Objects

Quartz Conglomerate Millstone

Associated Person: Irvin L. Huff
Associated Person: Franklin F. Webb
Copper Hill (Locust Grove District)

Quartz conglomerate

  • Diameter of stone: 39 inches
  • Diameter of central opening: 7 inches
  • Height: 12 1/2 inches

This is the runner (upper) stone from a matched pair of horizontal millstones. Quarried on Brush Mountain in Montgomery County, the single piece of quartz conglomerate was shaped and dressed by hand. A metal rind cemented into sockets in the face of this stone allowed it to balance on a rotating metal spindle. Two sockets at right angles to the rind held the ends of a driving iron that gripped the square shaft of the spindle and compelled the runner to rotate above the stationary bed stone, shearing and crushing the grain between. As cleaned grain is fed through the eye of the runner from a hopper suspended above, the dressing (intersecting grooves chiseled into the stone’s face) directs the processed grain toward the periphery of the stones. The grooves are deeper near the center of the stone and gradually become more shallow toward the outer edges.

Millstone, runner stone, quartz conglomerate, Brush Mountain, grist mill
Bio Sketch

Irving Huff (1882-1969) was the son of Giles and Penelope “Nellie” Huff and grandson of miller Henry Huff.  After Irving’s father died, his mother married another miller and millwright, N.T. Fowler. Fowler is believed to have built a new mill for Irving Huff.


The Irvin L. Huff Mill operated near the headwaters of Little River in the eastern tip of Floyd County  from the early 1900s through the 1950s. This mill maintained a reputation for producing high quality buckwheat flour and cornmeal.

The Water-Powered Mills of Floyd County, Virginia Illustrated Histories, 1770-2010 includes a chapter on the Irvin Huff Mill. Its authors, Franklin F. Webb and Ricky L. Cox, curated a 1994 exhibit “The Run of the Mills: Grinding Grain, Weaving Wool, Sawing Wood: Milling Traditions in Floyd County” at Old Church Gallery.