In 1867, pioneer businessman Samuel Sherwood accepted a contract from the Independence Mills Company to build the largest mill in the state of Iowa. Boulders of granite were pulled from the fields of Buchanan County, dressed and cut for the foundation and heavy timber framing was constructed an impressive six stories high. Mr. Sherwood even patented his own design for the powerful basement turbines.
Placed on the National Historic Register in 1975 and donated to the Buchanan County Historical Society by Oliver and Leona Greenley in 1976; the mill is now open to the public as a museum. Filled wiht original milling equipment and outfitted with detailed signage, it is a treasure trove of history. Stop in and learn how the mill was able to process nearly 15,000 pounds of flour each day. Run your hand along the grain chute's wood polished in waves from the wheat and observe the scorched timbers from the 1962 fire. Children can even try their muscles and patience at a primitive hand mill.
There are many stories to be told here, inside and out. On the upper floor of the museum visitors can learn about the life of independence's early settlers who would have relied on the mill for flour and livestock feed. Exhibits tell about kitchen gardens, root cellars, making soap and butter, laundry, ironing and keeping chickens. Outside, the building displays it's history as well. The west wall bricks are deeply worn from the many wagon hubs which shimmied close to catch the grain flowing from overhead chutes.
The museum is open May through September from Noon to 4 pm.
For group tours call Anita Miller at 319-334-6914 or Wanda Goins at 319-334-4550