Cedar Point Mill
Last weekend while visiting Chase county, we visited the remains of a once proud mill standing forlornly on the banks of the Cottonwood River.
Over 150 years ago, the river flowed between the trees and through the prairies just as it had for thousands of years. Kansas was still a territory in 1857 when a couple of settlers moved into the area and built their cabins. They next built a sawmill. Completed in 1867, it was built using all-wood construction and was powered by the flowing waters of the Cottonwood River. The mill’s primary purpose was sawing lumber and it soon became the center of the growing community of Cedar Point. But in 1871 the mill was washed away in a flood. Undaunted, that same year construction began on a new mill from hand cut native limestone.
Completed in 1875, this mill ground wheat turning it into flour. The mill was several stories high with a roof peak that soared 85 feet above the normal river level. It’s output was 75 barrels of flour per day. In 1903 business was good, and a wood frame addition was built to provide an office and grain storage area. The mill continued in operation grinding wheat until 1941.
A new owner at that time began to use the mill to grind feed for his cattle. In the late 40s the mill was converted from water power to electric power and continued to be used to grind feed until 1988 when the mill was sold again.
But for whatever reason, the new owner allowed the mill to fall silent and neglected.
In 2006, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Today, unused and seemingly abandoned, it is in poor condition with large structural cracks in the walls.
The windows are gone and some of the window arches have crumbled.
The wooden floors are still intact but have sagged in places.
Trees have grown up around the mill. It is the only one left now in Chase county, and one of the few mills left standing in Kansas.
At one point it hummed with activity operating both day and night. But some day soon it will crumble to earth and a priceless piece of Kansas history will be gone. There are no organized plans to restore and repair the mill, and soon photos will be all that remain.
It’s sad and frustrating. This mill should be restored and operated as a state park or historic site. There should be visitors here learning about a time and place in history that will never come again.
And afterwards, the visitors would stand on the banks of the Cottonwood river and think about a time when the river flowed past the trees and through the prairies just as it has for thousands of years.
It’s sad when historic buildings are left to decay. That must have been beautiful when it was in its prime! Thanks for the history lesson.
Suzanne, Thanks again for another point of interest in the great state of Kansas. I will have to see this before it’s too late… Is is accessible or does one need permission to photograph it? Thanks for your wonderful and informative blog… Thanks to Harland as well ! He’s pretty darned good with a camera too ! 🙂 Jim
The floors are not necessary sound. Enter at your own risk.
Beautiful and sad. There is a mill in Readyville TN not too far from us. It ground flour and corn until the 1970’s. Then someone bought it and it was horribly neglected. Then the older owner died, and it was sold to someone who was interested. They restored it and part of it now serves breakfast. It is wonderful and many enjoy touring the grounds and watching corn being ground. Their site: The Readyville Mill, Readyville, TN. (prounced Reedyville)
I visited the website you recommended about the Readyville Mill. Wonderful what’s been done there to preserve history.
Very pretty and pretty sad. I wish we cold all ban together and buy it and restore it….maybe a B&B could be run from there.
Absolutely, anything to get it restored.
Really loved, loved, loved this post and yours and Harland’s exquisite photographs. I’ve always had a special place in my heart for all things prairie even though I’ve lived my whole life in coastal RI and MA!!
Years ago I read a wonderful book by Joanna Stratton titled Pioneer Women: Voices from the Kansas Frontier. It’s simply an amazing book. I have passed it on to my oldest granddaughter who was born at Ft. Riley, KS.
Lastly my home state of Rhode Island has a still function mill that I enjoy visiting called Kenyon’s Grist Mill in Usquepaugh RI. They still grind corn for the wonderful cornmeal that creates Jonnycakes!
Thanks Suzanne for helping me start my day out right!
Your post and pictures are great! I in fact are from that tiny town of Cedar Point and my family were the ones who ran it to mill feed for cattle. You have no idea how frustrating it is to see it crumbling. The doctor that bought it is just about worthless, KSU and national historical society offered to buy it, but the doctor doesn’t want to give up rights to it. It is a horrible situation, it is such a beautiful piece of history that was the building block for that small town, and as you put it will soon be crumbling into the river. I thank everyone who comes to look at it and photograph it.
Go to http://www.cedarpointmill if you want to see it look new again
Go donate to the rebuilding of the mill at cedarpointmill.com
Please do no try and enter the Cedar Point Mill. There are people that think they can go in through the windows, and enter from the area on the west of the mill. The structure is not sound, and it is not advisable to try and enter. The river bank is steeper than you think. Photograph from a distance. Also, there is a copperhead snake that resides in a hole near one of the windows.
Restoration has begun! visit http://www.cedarpointmill.com to help!