Cloud's Mill Race – Alexandria, Virginia - Atlas Obscura

Cloud's Mill Race

This millstone-topped marker details the history of a mill that served as a landmark for both Union and Confederate soldiers during the American Civil War. 


Cloud’s Mill Race offers a rare glimpse into the once-booming mill industry that thrived in Alexandria, Virginia during the 19th century. Between 1813 and 1816, Cloud’s Mill, also known as Triadelphia, was erected just across Paxton Street from the marker.

It was owned by a succession of millers including James Cloud, who operated it from 1835 to 1863. The mill was operational for more than a century. Despite owning the mill for less than a third of that time, Cloud’s was the name that stuck. The mill race was located during a survey of Holmes Run in the 1970s that led to the discovery of the segment where the marker stands today.

This segment might have been lost to history if not for an appeal by the Office of Historic Alexandria to a developer building townhouses in the area. The developer was utterly fascinated and embraced the opportunity to preserve this slice of local history.

In addition to moving the footprint for the development, he named the project Mill Streams and included a reference to the mill in one of the community’s street names—Cloude’s Mill Drive. The marker itself features a millstone-like one that once ground wheat and corn at Cloud’s Mill during its heyday in the 1800s.

Know Before You Go

The marker can be found along Paxton Street on the opposite side of the street from where it intersects with Cloude's Mill Drive.

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October 23, 2023

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