Powder Yard

The first Du Pont black powder was made in these powder yards in 1804 launching one of the longest standing and most innovative American enterprises since this country’s founding. Between the company’s founding in 1802 and 1840, the yards expanded twice to include three dams, upper and lower mill races, dozens of mill buildings, and over a mile of infrastructure, much of which can still be seen today.

On your journey through the powder yards you will see historic stone structures that housed the powder manufacturing process, working nineteenth-century machinery, waterwheels, and turbines powered by the river, line shafts that transferred energy, a sixteen-ton roll mill in operation, a stone quarry that supplied the building material of the yards, black powder explosion demonstrations, a coal-fired steam engine, and of course the beautiful Brandywine River.

Be sure not to miss:

  • Demonstrations of the only operating black powder roll mill in the country. (currently down for maintenance)
  • The site and debris of one of the largest accidental explosions in the history of the yards.
  • "Easy Does It!" An exhibition for younger visitors that provides hands-on opportunities to learn how simple machines make life easier. (Special hours)
  • The sixteen-foot high Birkenhead water wheel at the oldest mills in the Hagley yards.
  • The sights, sounds, and smells of an 1870s steam engine in action.
  • The working nineteenth-century machines in the machine shop.
  • Black powder explosion demonstrations.
  • The restored 1890s Hercules Type A water turbine that provides power to the machines in the Machine Shop.
  • The Rechard Turbine that uses water power to charge Hagley's electric bus.