Riverhead: Once home to the oldest saw mill on Long Island

The old red mill in Riverhead. (Credit: Courtesy)
The old red mill in Riverhead. (Credit: Suffolk County Historical Society)

Did you know historians believe Riverhead to be home to the first saw mill ever erected on Long Island?

Around 1659, when Riverhead was still part of Southold Town, John Tucker received permission from local authorities to build the Little Red Mill, according to the Suffolk County Historical Society

Officials from SCHS, which is currently featuring the mill as its “Photo of the Week,” said the Peconic River provided power for multiple milling operations for 250 years. In fact, Riverhead once contained a hamlet called Upper Mills.

Undated documents from the Southold Town Records state that: “At a meetinge of the Towne John Tucker propounded for liberty to sett upp a saw mill inplace most convenient within the Towne bounds neer the head of the River [Riverhead] and liberty to cutt all sorts of timber…. The [permission for Tucker to build the saw mill] was granted…uppon his promise [that] the Towne of Southold should be first from tyme to tyme supplyed with boards for every mans particular use…”

According to the Riverhead News, the News-Review’s forebear, the Little Red Mill was demolished by its owner, Frank Woodhull, in 1938 so that he could extend Riverhead Auto Parts.

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