History Part 2
Snavely fed the furnace periodically throughout the day and finally, twelve hours after arriving, called it a day, shoveled coal into the furnace and banked it for another night. Some days he stayed at the mill for fourteen or fifteen hours.
On the first floor Snavely pointed through a dust-coated window pane. "That house,” he said, as his finger swept across the mill pond and up the road several hundred yards, "was the first mill around here. It was built between 1713 and 1715.” One of Snavely’s four children lives there now.
Inside the mill where we stood, the same race has been turning a water wheel for nearly two hundred years and the elemental power generated by the wheel has been grinding wheat into flour. The "product,” as Snavely refers to the all-natural flour, raw bran, wheat germ meal and whole wheat flour he grinds, is made from grain gathered within a fifty mile radius of the mill. So fine is the flour that it takes five cups to make a pound instead of the usual four cups. As for using shortening, "Well,” Snavely advised, "if you go by ‘feel’, you’ll know how the dough is coming along; if you go by ‘measure,’ then you use twenty percent less shortening with this flour.”
Snavely began working at the mill when he was twelve and had been concerned with the "product” for fifty years when a friend, who had come to the United States from Germany, began talking with him about expanding his operation. "This friend was a miller,” Snavely explained, "and after he was in this country, he became a professional baker. No one could know more about the product including how it was milled and how it served the baker as dough. When he went back to Germany, I asked him to check on new equipment. He looked at mills for a year or so and then recommended one built by Roncaglia.” Roncaglia of Modena, Italy, are makers – according to Snavely’s friend – of the best milling equipment in the world.
In April, 1974, in the summer of his seventieth year, Snavely and his wife, Viola, flew from New York to Geneva, Switzerland. It was his first trip abroad. They rented a car and drove through the Alps to Modena in northern Italy. After a day and a half at the Roncaglia works, the Snavelys motored through parts of Austria, Switzerland and southern Germany looking at milling equipment in operation. Roncaglia was his choice.