My family and I visited the Bale Grist Mill near Calistoga today. After doing extensive research on an organic grain production project in Oregon, I was fascinated to learn about Northern Califoria’s history of grain growing and milling. In the mid 1800’s the Napa Valley was a prosperous grain growing region, and the Bale Grist Mill was its hub. Much of the grain grown in Sonoma County was millled at the Bale Mill, due to its efficiency. Founded in the 1840’s by an unsavory doctor from England, who married General Vallejo’s niece, the Mill only became profitable after Dr. Bale died and his wife took over. She hired millwrights that rebuilt the mill in the 1850’s with the help of The Young Mill-wright and Millers’ Guide written by inventor Oliver Evans in 1795. This book detailed Evans’ invention of a fully automated, water powered grist mill, an innovation that laid the ground work for the industrial revolution.