Windmill Towers Without a Bagasse Opening

While a windmill was operating, three main inputs and outputs needed to be managed by the people working there. The first was the harvested cane needed to enter the mill to be crushed by the rollers. The second was the juice needed to flow to a container, presumably on to the boiling house. The third was the crushed cane, or bagasse, needed to be removed from the mill.

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Typically, windmill towers have a main entrance, juice trough opening, machine slot, and bagasse opening. In some cases, a windmill tower has 2 bagasse openings. This does not consider windows, hearths, or basements and other storage areas. Each of openings have been described in the blog post about openings of the windmill towers. Of these openings, the only ones consistently found in all windmills where the openings can be identified are the main entrance and the machine slot. Interestingly, at least half a dozen windmill towers do not have a bagasse opening.

Golden Rock windmill tower The windmill tower at Golden Rock does not have a bagasse opening on either side of the main entrance.

What mills did not have a bagasse opening?

Of the windmills found in the field, six towers do not have a bagasse opening. Additionally, one foundation does not show evidence of a bagasse opening by having evidence of a sloping floor in the place you would expect to find a bagasse opening. However, given deterioration of the Fair Plaine foundation, this assessment is far less certain than the other towers.

Hard Labor in Prince’s – likely built in the 19th century

Williams Delight in Prince’s – likely built in the 19th century

Jealousy in Prince’s – likely built in the 1750s

Barren Spot in King’s – likely built in the 1760s

Peters Rest in Queen’s – likely built in the 1760s

Golden Rock in Company’s – likely built in the 1760s

Perhaps Fair Plain – Bethlehem Middle Works in King’s – reduced to a foundation – likely built in the 1770s

All of these windmill towers have a main entrance, machine slot, and juice trough opening.

Williams Delight windmill tower The Williams Delight windmill was incorporated into a school building.

Why is a bagasse opening important?

Bagasse could not indefinitely accumulate inside the mill. Accumulation eventually impeded the operation of the mill.

The bagasse opening allowed the removal of the crushed cane from the windmill tower. Often, the floor of the bagasse opening slanted outward, facilitating the removal of the bagasse from the mill into a cart waiting below to be moved to an area where it could be dried before being used as fuel.

Barren Spot King's Quarter windmill tower The Barren Spot-King’s Quarter mill does not have a bagasse opening.

What may have taken the place of the bagasse opening?

Each of the windmill towers without a bagasse opening have a main entrance, juice trough opening, and machine slot. Since the main entrance and juice trough openings each had a distinct function, presumably the machine slot was used for bagasse removal during mill operation. Since the primary function of the machine slot was to allow access to long pieces of equipment into the mill when it was not in operation, the use of this opening for bagasse removal seems like it would not disrupt other operations while the mill was operating.

In five of the towers, the juice trough opening is immediately opposite the machine slot. This would send the juice in one direction and the bagasse in another, with the main entrance for feeding the uncrushed cane into the rollers.

The exception is the Hard Labor, where the juice trough is at the bottom of the east facing wall, very unusual for the windmill configurations. The trough is angled such that the juice flowed down the hill to the factory complex in the valley below. In this case, the machine slot could be used as a bagasse opening as well.

Hard Labor juice trough and machine slot openings The Hard Labor machine slot opening had a level floor but likely served to remove bagasse from the mill.

Looking at the geographic distribution of these mills and their estimated construction dates, no pattern immediately emerges. The sites are a mix of steep and flat areas. The construction dates range from the 1750s to the 19th century.