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Durham Grist Mill a history lesson Palisades wants to teach


Social studies teachers from the Palisades School District got to check out the weight of a Revolution-era cannonball and examine a Colonial stoveback during a tour of the Durham Grist Mill this month.

Both items were produced at the Durham Furnace in the 1750s and are part of a growing mini-museum in the mill, which has stood on the foundation of the furnace since 1820. The furnace itself dates to 1727.

The group also saw a millstone and the giant waterwheel that once was powered by the waters of Cooks Creek. The grist mill operated from 1820 until 1967.

The visit and brief tour of the mill was arranged by the Durham Historical Society after Dennis Gluck, chair of the social studies department at Palisades Middle School, read about the mill in an article David Oleksa, president of the historical society, had written for the Bucks County Herald.

Gluck said he would like to have social studies classes tour the site. He said the curriculum covers history from the colonies up to the War of 1812. Gluck, co-chair Dave Hinkle and the other teachers are interested in incorporating local history and nearby sites of interest in the social studies curriculum.

Gluck said students have already visited Philadelphia and toured the Federal Reserve building and the U.S. Mint. They are planning to go to the National Museum of Industrial History in Bethlehem.

Gluck said the middle school is establishing a Junior Rho Kappa Chapter for social studies students. Rho Kappa is the only national organization for middle or junior high school students that recognizes excellence in the field. A Junior Rho Kappa chapter provides national recognition for outstanding students and encourages an interest in, understanding of, and appreciation for the social studies.

Accompanying Gluck and Hinkle were Alex Bobsein, high school social students department head; high school teachers Scott Antoni, Sean McGovern, Kevin Ronalds and Nick Lefevre, who teaches at both schools, and middle school teacher Allison Burley.

Hosting the event for the historical society were Oleksa, Lois Olexa and Stephen Willey.

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