Tide mills were used in Red Hook to grind grain into flour. They were also used to grind ginger. Water from the twice daily high tides was captured in mill ponds. A gate could be opened, sending the water rushing down a channel and turning the large wheel of the mill. The large waterwheel would, via large wooden gears, rotate heavy mill stones.
Freeke’s Mill, also known as Brouwer’s Mill, was slightly inland of Red Hook roughly in present day Gowanus.
The owner of the mill, Adam Brouwer, proposed the canal that was dug through Red Hook to allow goods to be brought back and forth by water without having to go all the way around the peninsula. See the text of his original petition to built the canal in Henry Reed Stiles' 1867 "History of Brooklyn."