Readyville Mill Restoration, Custom Bicycle Frames, and Other Profiles

A Tennessee couple who devoted years to restoring Readyville Mill, an Oregon man who makes custom bicycle frames with foot-powered tools, and other MOTHER EARTH NEWS-types are profiled in this installment of an ongoing feature.

| September/October 1981

  • 071 profiles - readyville mill
    Bill and Marie Carignan in front of Readyville Mill.
  • 071 profiles - custom bicycle frames
    Gary Hale at work making one of his custom bicycle frames.

  • 071 profiles - readyville mill
  • 071 profiles - custom bicycle frames

The following profiles are of little-known MOTHER EARTH NEWS-type folks from all over. 

Bill and Marie Carignan: Readyville Mill

When Bill and Marie Carignan purchased Readyville Mill in 1973, the 161-year-old company was in the process of some extensive restoration. Traditional buhrstones—operated by means of a water-powered turbine—had been installed as a replacement for the more modern steel rollers, allowing the millers to grind grain as it had been ground a century before. But there was much work left for the Carignans to tackle.  Though the business prospered, the renovation expenses quickly mounted to a point far beyond the family's means.

Then, in 1977, Bill and Marie were offered an opportunity to sell the historic business to a man who had the resources necessary to complete the restoration. Reluctantly, they went through with the sale. With the money from that transaction, the couple was able to set up two bakeries, selling flour, grain, meal, grits, cereal, bran, pancake mix, home-baked bread, and cheese, all made from ingredients produced within their own community. Meanwhile, the family watched the mill closely to see that reconstruction went as planned. 

They were sorry to see that it didn't. Instead, repairs—and eventually business—came to a halt, so the Carignans set out to buy back the property. Bill and Marie hope to raise the funds they'll need through the sale of the family's whole grain bakery products and a cookbook called From the Miller's Table, published by Marie in 1973. "We're going to do our best to see to it, once and for all," says Marie, "that Readyville Mill is completely restored! "-JV. 

Gary Hale: Custom Bicycle Frames

Gary Hale makes his living building custom bicycle frames, a job that normally requires a good bit of expensive, energy-consuming equipment. But you won't find any electricity guzzling machines in this craftsman's workshop, because the Cheshire, Oregon entrepreneur has outfitted his business with hand and foot-powered tools!

Hale's shop boasts a homemade, pedal-powered milling machine that miters tubes so they can be brazed together properly. The device runs at the same rate (150 RPM) as does its electric equivalent, and a five-speed cog allows the operator to pedal in a comfortable gear. In addition, Gary uses a turn-of-the-century, hand-run drill press ...a piece of equipment that is—thanks to its simple construction—both easy and inexpensive to maintain.

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