The DNR Division of State Parks and the staff at Cecil M. Harden Lake (Raccoon State Recreation Area) will host an open house at the Historic Mansfield Roller Mill 5-7 p.m. Wednesday to offer tours and provide information regarding the removal of the deteriorating cypress water wheel next to the mill.
“The water wheel does not power the mill, and thus does not provide a clear representation of this mill’s history of operation,” said Ginger Murphy, deputy director for State Parks. “Our goal is to provide accurate interpretation of the historic structures and sites we manage, and this open house will allow us to talk about ways to do that at Mansfield Mill through conversations with those who visit.”
The site features one of the few surviving historic roller mills in Indiana. The mill was considered state-of-the-art when it was designed by builder Jacob Rohm in the 1880s. It is also still one of the most complete roller mills because it contains much of the original mill structure.
“The mill’s design represents a technological leap forward for milling that is an important story to tell,” Murphy said.
While the mill appears from the outside to be powered by the water wheel, it is in fact powered by two turbines. The older of the two turbines was installed 135 years ago and is still capable of powering the equipment to mill wheat. The other turbine, installed in 1912, was used to power the corn milling equipment until damage to its lower bearings caused it to stop working.
The State of Indiana obtained the Historic Mansfield Roller Mill in 1995 when it was donated to Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites. In the early 2000s, management of the mill was transferred to State Parks.
Those who are interested in the wheel removal or who would like additional information about the history of the mill can visit the site, which is located in Mansfield Village along Rock Creek, any time during the two-hour open house for a one-on-one conversation with DNR staff.
Refreshments will be provided.