Standing over three stories tall, the reportedly oldest working grist mill still standing on its original site between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains is located just down the road from Muscatine.
The Pine Creek Grist Mill is 170 years old and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. Built by Benjamin Nye in 1848, the Pine Creek Grist Mill functioned until 1927, when it became a part of Wildcat Den State Park. When it was operational in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the mill was powered by a 20-horsepower water turbine. In times of low water, a backup steam engine was used, which is thought to have put out around 40 horsepower.
A volunteer nonprofit called Friends of the Mill formed in 1996 to preserve the mill. This group partnered with the State of Iowa to restore the mill for use as an educational tool. The State of Iowa invested more than $600,000 in this project. Regular updates have been posted to the mill’s website during the restoration season, with a total of 96 updates available online. The Friends of the Mill offers memberships on a year-to-year basis, at $20 per year. This includes the spouse of the member and a newsletter.
The restoration of the Pine Creek Grist Mill included the removal of over 70 years of dirt and mud, as well as the replacement of windows, roof, and smokestack. The foundation was stabilized and the timber frame construction of the mill itself was stabilized and repaired. The original water-powered turbine was restored and currently operates, as does the millstone milling plant and the corn milling plant. A fire suppression and intrusion alarm system was also installed to protect the mill.
The Pine Creek Grist Mill is open to the public and admission is free. It is open Saturdays and Sundays between May 5 and October 7 and Wednesdays through Sundays in the months of June, July, and August. The mill is open between the times of 12:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. On Memorial Day, May 28, the mill will also be open from 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. However, on July 28, access to the mill will be limited by around 15,000 bikers as part of the last leg of RAGBRAI. Demonstrations are held on Saturday and Sunday at 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m., depending on the availability of staff and the working condition of mill. Please keep in mind that extreme heat may close the mill.