This photo of our mill is one of our favorites. It shows us what daily life was like at Yates nearly 110 years ago.
Because the photographer, Bruce Kingsbury, left his stamp on the photo, we know it was taken in 1914 or 1915; it was during that short time frame that Kingsbury operated his studio in Rochester. Through his lens, we are offered a glimpse of Yates Station and early twentieth-century farm life in Avon Township, just as World War I was beginning in Europe.
There are lots of interesting things to note in this image. Avon Road as it passes in front of the north end of the mill looks very different—there are no traffic signs or roundabouts, just a dirt wagon track. Simple bridges carry the horse-drawn farm vehicles over the old canal bed and the mill race.
The photo shows a Michigan Central train at Yates Station. A baggage car reads “New York Central” because the Michigan Central was an independent subsidiary of the New York Central line at this time. Beyond the railroad car, we can see the roof line of a small building, and there appears to be some lettering on the side of it, just barely peeking above the car’s roof. Perhaps this was a freight shed or platform used by area farmers who shipped their crops to market from Yates Station.
Trains ran through Yates eight times a day in 1914— four running northbound and four running southbound. A passenger who boarded the train departing Yates Station at 10:19 a.m. would arrive at Detroit’s brand-new Michigan Central Station at 11:30 a.m.
The railroad is not the only mode of transportation shown here. Although the Yates mill is now identified with cider-making, during Avon Township’s agricultural heyday it also offered a feed grinding service. Farmers brought their corn and oats to Yates for processing, and in this photo, we can see a farm wagon parked beneath the canopy on the east side of the mill. A worker is filling sacks from a chute on the side of the building and loading them on the wagon.
Also visible in this photo is a blacksmith shop standing just east of the mill building. We aren’t sure when the smithy was built, but it may have been the shop of Adam W. Yates, one of the grandsons of William H. Yates. About five years after this photo was taken, Adam Yates purchased the old Jennings Foundry on South Main Street in Rochester and opened a machine shop there. This blacksmith shop may have been one of his earlier business ventures.
More than a century later, the one thing in the photo that has not changed is Yates Cider Mill. Our building looks much the same as it did when Bruce Kingsbury captured this image in 1914, and we are still delighted to serve up smiles and delicious cider to our community.