Space age and pioneer history collide at Spring Mill State Park. The pioneer village depicts frontier life in the nineteenth century. The Gus Grissom Memorial celebrates the life of a local space age hero, Gus Grissom, an astronaut who participated in the Mercury and Apollo Space Programs. These two facilities combine to relate the history of this interesting area. There are many attractions, but here are a few of my favorites:
1) Water Powered Grist Mill
Visitors to the park can watch the graceful mill wheel turn as it converts the power of the stream to useful energy. Water emerges from the earth, trickles down the sluiceway and into the troughs of the water wheel. The water's force turns the wheel, providing the energy needed to operate the gristmill and sawmill. The peaceful sound of gurgling water turning the wheel can almost resurrect the images of farmers with creaky-wheeled wagons transporting grain, squealing pigs rooting in the mill yard and people chatting as they bustle about on the dusty streets.
2) Grinding Grain
Corn meal and flour were crucial foods the pioneer needed to live. Farmers harvested their grains and brought it to the mill for the miller to grind into the corn meal and wheat flour they needed to sustain life. The fragrance of fresh ground grain steeps the air inside the mill, a familiar smell to those long ago farmers that came here to have the miller grind their corn.
3) Water Powered Sawmill
Pioneers needed lumber to build homes and other structures. The same power harnessed to grind grain also served to saw lumber. The primitive sawmill powered by the stream that emerged nearby also cut trees into useful lumber. The scent of fresh sawn lumber fills the air as visitors watch the sawyer cut lumber from logs at the mill.
4) History Museum
The upper floors of the mill at one time stored grain. They now serve as a history museum that enables modern visitors to see the tools, weapons and other things needed for people to survive in the raw wilderness. Visitors can almost hear the cows lowing and horses neighing as they browse the old farm tools on exhibit.
5) Timeless Craft - Weaving Loom
In season, visitors can watch as an artisan weaves thread into cloth. Many of the farmers on the frontier raised sheep, whose wool these much-needed artisans turned into cloth for clothing.
6) Pioneer Blacksmith
To farm, travel and build, men needed iron implements and shoes for horses. The village blacksmith provided this and worked hard at repairing broken tools and shoeing horses.
7) Pioneer Village
As one treads the streets of Spring Mill on observes the things that early pioneers in the area observed. One can observe the weaver weaving cloth and the leatherworker fashioning animal skins into shoes and other useful things. Visitors will also see the cooper making barrels and other wooden necessities in his carpenter shop while the pioneer schoolmistress or master fashions young minds into useful citizens at the village school.
8) Pioneer Garden
In the garden, one finds the plants grown for food and medicine. During the summer season, visitors can participate in workshops that explain the roles of the different plants in the lives of the frontier people.
9) Pioneer Cemetery
Many of the inhabitants of Spring Mill now rest in this peaceful environ. Spirits bustle about, some seem to whisper their stories to you as you browse the mute gravestones.
10) Frontier Apothecary
Modern medicine did not exist. Physicians administered herbs, many of which were locally grown. Many times a doctor was not available, so people many times were left to their own devices when it came to healing diseases and injuries.
11) Hamer Cave and Spring
The spring that bubbles forth from Hamer Cave and powers the gristmill has been here for centuries. Visitors can contemplate this timeless treasure as it gushes from the rocks and down the stream toward the mill.
12) Old Limestone Quarry
Most of the rock for the mill and other buildings came from this old limestone quarry. Stone workers cleaved rock from these hills for stonemasons to fashion into buildings and homes.
13) Twin Caves Boat Tour
During the summer months, guides take boats into the ancient caves that underlie the hills above. If lucky, visitors might catch a glimpse of some of the small creatures that inhabit this dark abode.
14) Grissom Memorial
Spring Mill exhibits cross the line from the wilderness frontier to the equally forbidding frontier of space with the Virgil Grissom Memorial. Mitchell native Gus Grissom flew on the third Mercury mission. Gus died in a launch pad fire in 1967 during a testing operation for the Gemini space program. This memorial honors his life and career.
15) Spring Mill Inn
Visitors to Spring Mill can stay at the beautiful campground or at Spring Mill Inn.
Visitors will find many other historic sites and attractions to make a visit well worthwhile. Do you have any favorite features at Spring Mill? Let me know your favorite places. Visit
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