Hydraulic Mills/Union Ridge Communities

Hydraulic Mills was a thriving village located in Albemarle County at the juncture of Ivy Creek and the Rivanna River just north of River View Farm.

Early on, Hydraulic Mills played an interesting role in local history. Contractor John Perry established the mill site in 1818 from which he supplied much of the lumber used to build the University of Virginia. Sold to Nathaniel Burnley in 1829, the mill complex grew to include a grist and merchant mill, a miller’s house, a cooper’s shop, a store house, a blacksmith’s shop, a country store and briefly a silk worm industry. By the mid-nineteenth century Hydraulic had become the head of navigation for the Rivanna River. Farmers from throughout northern and western Albemarle brought wheat and tobacco to be processed and sent down river by batteaux to Richmond and beyond. Tragically, a devastating flood in September of 1870 ended river navigation in Albemarle County forever.

In the 1880s, Rollins Sammons, who had been a free black miller in Milton before the Civil War, bought the property and Hydraulic Mills became a commercial and social center for the growing African American neighborhood known as Union Ridge.  In this community Hugh Carr lived and traded throughout his adult life.

In 1966, the newly constructed South Fork Rivanna Reservoir flooded the junction of Ivy Creek and the Rivanna River, erasing all vestiges of this once vital community center.