The Wapsipinicon Feed Mill and Dam

Monday, June 9, 2014

On our way home from making another concrete pad delivery, we stopped in Independence, Iowa to visit the Wapsipinicon Feed Mill and Dam which is now a museum.

The mill was built in 1867 by Samuel Sherwood and served the community for over 100 years.  It has 6 stories, but only two of them are open to the public as a museum.  From the lower floor through a small glass window you can see into the floor where the water enters the building.

The Gift Shop
We were greeted at the door by a very informational volunteer who told us about the museum and surrounding area.  There was no admission fee, but there were several freewill donation boxes throughout the building.  There also is a gift shop for anyone interested in purchasing souvenirs.

The mill features all sorts of grain processing devices.  Above left is a scouring machine (smutter) used to clean grain.  On the right is a Middlings Purifier which was used to remove the husks from kernels of wheat.
The pestle and mortar stone above and millstones below were available for visitors to try their hands at.

The grinder on the left is just like the one we use occasionally to grind corn for our chickens, but the stone on the right from the mill would be a bit heavy to work with...I'm glad the human race learned how to utilize water power!
This roller mill was also on display.
What every farmer needs: barbed wire, fence stretchers, and augers.   
And this is what every farmer's (or gardener's) hands really need after a hard day's work: soap!
The rug above is an example of Wagon Wheel Weaving. 
 For some reason I have an idea this took more than a 10-minute "I'll run to the store and get a rug" trip.
 Washers and dryers aren't what they used to be (and that's a good thing)!  
Above is a laundry wringer and below is a "high power washer."
 There were old books, collections of old tins and packaged food containers, 
and various displays like the chicken coop and workshop below. 
 In case you are still insufficiently illuminated by the end of your tour, 
there is a collection of light bulbs ,most of which would now be illegal to manufacture.  
If you're looking for a good deal on corn meal,
 get out your time machine and head back to 1881 when you could buy it for $13.00 a ton! 
 Unfortunately we didn't have our time machine with us, so instead of boarding a westbound passenger train
(see the April 30, 1947 timetable below),
we had to leave Independence via the highway and head for home after a highly satisfying trip.
I would recommend the Wapsipinicon Feed Mill and Dam museum to anyone traveling through Independence.  
You're guaranteed to get an interesting piece of local history--for free!


  1. I'd sure love to visit that mill as I like old historical places. If it wasn't a museum, I think it would nice if it was converted in a house or a community centre. I like your simple and sincere writing so I have decided to follow your blog and I look forward to reading more.

  2. Thank you Carlyn! Yes, old buildings (particularly barns, though the mill would be novel and very neat) do make very neat houses and community centres. I guess the only concern would be the astronomical heating bills in the winter!

  3. This is a really interesting place! It's so fun to visit museums. It's also good to be made more thankful for washers and dryers of modern days! :D

  4. Wow such a lovely old building...the grinders and mills are neatly preserve I wish I had one of those.

    The place is just AWESOME the items, the decor everything!!

    Lovely lovely photos - Thanks Bethany for sharing. Hope you have a wonderful day .


  5. Thanks Laura! I hope you have an awesome day as well!