North Field Trail

Take a side trip to the Hydraulic Overlook to read more on the interesting history of the area.

Imagine Hydraulic Mills

The least visible piece of history, yet probably the most significant, is the site of the former mill village of Hydraulic. Built in the early 1800s, the mill supplied much of the lumber used to build the University of Virginia. By mid-century, the mill complex grew to include a grist and merchant mill, a miller’s house, a cooper (barrel maker), blacksmith, country store and post office. By this time, Hydraulic had become the head of navigation for the Rivanna River. Farmers from all around brought wheat and tobacco to be processed and sent downriver by batteaux to Richmond and beyond.

In the 1880s, a black miller by the name of Rollins Sammons bought the property and Hydraulic Mills became a commercial and social center for the growing African-American neighborhood known as Union Ridge – of which Hugh Carr who owned the land that became Ivy Creek Natural Area —  was a prominent member. An overlook is situated off the trail. While observant eyes will detect vestiges of the old road, no sign of Hydraulic Mills remains, as all evidence of it is now under the Reservoir.

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