The Gacka Springs
On the Gacka and its tributaries, there were roughly sixty mills in operation during the 20th century, but only a small number of them are still in operation now, milling using the river's power for their age-old task. They keep the memory of a long-gone craft here by keeping it in the harmony and synergy between man and nature, serving as an embodiment of their coexistence.
The millstones on the scaffoldings of Sinac rattled continuously, with the roar and noise of the water, both day and night, throughout the year. Most of the time from the time of threshing to the end of autumn, and during large floods or low water levels of the Lika River, people traveled here for hours from the distant areas of regions of Krbava and Lika. Grain was brought in on bullock carts or sleds, and in the winter by sleighs, when horse-drawn carriages were still a rarity. Twenty trains were waiting for their turn to grind, and there were daily arrivals at the platform. Everything was bustling with activity, life, and people. The perspective of this, from the mills of the formerly prosperous, now almost lost community, seems almost surreal. With its local, centuries-old history, milling was preserved not just as a method of operation, but also as a place where knowledge and experience were shared, relationships and friendships were strengthened, and people interacted with a lot of laughing and talk.
The need to wait for the threshing meant that when the peasants brought grain, they also brought food and hay for their livestock. The miller took care of their stay, taking care of their accommodation and food if they had to wait longer—sometimes they had to wait for their turn for two or three days. He had to bake enough bread for the day and feed their livestock hay. He ought to have taken care of the grain and ensured that it was always finely milled in order to uphold his reputation. There were other millers who just cared that the mill was running so that the grinding would be completed quickly and they could increase their service charge profits. Milling seemed to be a source of easy profit and secure income, but the millstones had to be maintained. Every few days, depending on the amount of grinding, it had to be rolled out and sharpened by tapping, and only the more skilled millers knew how to carve the stone, place it in a circular mold made of boards and pour resin, and when it hardens, nail it with tin rings.
The mill had several co-owners who, according to the agreed schedule, had the right to earn from only one millstone. They "kept the order", and the right to the order was obtained by inheritance and donation or acquired by purchasing an ownership share. Even girls received it as a dowry.
Today, on the slopes of Gacka, the mills still resist as remnants of folk architecture, with the clatter of the mill. The most interesting thing for visitors is certainly the Majerovo vrilo, where you can best experience the coexistence of water and people. See how flour is milled, buy freshly milled flour and refresh your soul in the cold beauty of Gacka.
In addition to Majerovo, be sure to visit Toković vrilo, which is only a few minutes' drive away.
Come, experience and listen to the centuries-old peace of the old mills.