Union man discovers cache of antique millstones along Hackensack River

Millstones are giant stones used to ground grain before the industrial revolution.

News 12 Staff

Jun 5, 2020, 10:50 PM

Updated 1,418 days ago

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A Union man says he discovered a cache of antique millstones on the banks of the Hackensack River.
Paul Lerin, a Harrison native who now lives in Union, drove a line boat accompanying ships carrying tar to a roof shingle factory up the Hackensack for 20 years. During his drives, he says he always wondered about a bunch of old round stones in the mud under the Pulaski Skyway.
Lerin says he eventually recognized the rocks as millstones after seeing one displayed at an old mill in Pennsylvania.
Millstones are giant stones used to ground grain before the industrial revolution. They are now widely used as lawn ornaments.
Once he made his discovery, Lerin says he recruited a team of Harrison high school kids to help dig them out.
Lerin says he has gifted a few away and has been given permission to store the rest at Harrison Department of Public Works until the stones' origins can be confirmed.
He believes they may have been a gift from France to help Americans feed troops and citizens during the Revolutionary War.
However, geologists who he has consulted with say they are not sure that is the case.
"I've had an opportunity to talk to many millstone experts, one suggesting they came all the way from China. Overall, they're really a mystery," says Lerin. "How did they get there on the banks of the Hackensack River? Was it a ship that couldn't make it up because of the draught, and they had to discharge some weight?"
Lerin says he hopes to eventually sell or donate them for public display once the mystery is solved.
There are a dozen pairs of the millstones in all, each stone weighing about 1,000 pounds.


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