Think, feel, stand tall, and overcome your fears for the key is to hang on for a total of 8 seconds.
We started our 4th of July 2012 with a photography trip through Porcupine – an unincorporated community in Pepin County, WI. Air temperatures were expected to approach records, and the heat index was near 110 degrees in some areas, but the sweltering heat did not stop us as we ventured out that day. Our plan was to photograph the beautiful rolling hills of this area and to visit an old, abandoned farmhouse that Dan had photographed in the winter of 2011.
Instantly, sweat started forming on our brows as we stepped out of the air-conditioned car. The light caught my eye as it danced across the roof of the old farmhouse and I thought to myself “This place is worth the sweltering heat” and stepped inside. With any abandoned building there comes a story – one you may know while others are fabricated in your mind as you view what was left behind. As I walk the floors of these abandoned buildings sometimes my mind does wander and I become lost behind my camera’s viewfinder. Dan is usually right there bringing me back into reality when the dangers of walking into these buildings become apparent. However, on this particular day the roles were somewhat reversed only I didn’t see the threat coming… neither did Dan. All I heard was a crack, bang, and a rustle, followed by air escaping from Dan’s mouth. As I turned around, I saw Dan pulling his leg out of the old floorboards. After making sure he was okay (seeing only a few scraps and a large bruise forming on his upper thigh), I turned to hide a smile that was forming on my lips. Sometimes, I have this problem of seeing the humor in events at the wrong time (only after making sure no one is hurt of course). A smile did form on Dan’s face as well after the realization that he too can become engrossed in what he is trying to photograph. Among the rickety floorboards was the sight of bird nests constructed on the old walls and the intense sound of humming from within the walls and ceilings… Yes, the vibration caused by the movement of thousands of tiny little wings was heard and felt. We left with the appreciation of Mother Nature in how it can adapt by turning the ruins of man into a shelter or temporary home.
In the winter of 2013, we again took the trip out to Porcupine Valley to visit this old farmstead only to see the ruins of its’ foundation.
We had learned later that this home was burnt to the ground in December of 2012. To make way for new, old structures are demolished and a little piece of history is gone forever.
This is why we do what we do.
To see Dan’s work from this site, please click on the following links:
Porcupine Valley Farmstead
a mill, esp one equipped with large grinding stones for grinding grain.
This is one of the most memorable trips to date; a day of fun and adventure for us all. Both of these mills were absolutely gorgeous and to see them work like how they did over 100 years ago was mind-blowing.
As we pulled up onto the property of Schech’s Mill, we were struck by the beauty of the buildings and scenery surrounding it. Edward came out to greet us with his welcoming demeanor and ushered us inside the old mill. He gave us a tour of the facility, showed us how the equipment worked and shared its amazing history. Power for the mill came from three Leffel turbines and one Sampson turbine. The equipment included four run of 22” Diamond buhrstones, a roller mill, crusher, sheller, bolters, and related elevators. Again, the powerful force that sent the machinery into motion caused a rumbling of the building was felt deep in our bones. What an honor to be able to step inside and see exactly how the gristmill worked its magic. Most of the original equipment is still in use including the original millstone imported from France. A lot of history to grasp, certainly not enough for one trip; Dan and I will be planning to return in the near future. I recently used all of the Corn Meal on delicous homemade Corn Bread but I still have the wheat flour made from this mill today. Tasty, tasty, tasty!! With appreciation, I thank you Edward, for sharing a little part of history with us on that day.
Schech’s Mill History:
In 1876, John Blinn built a mill in one of the beautiful valleys of southeastern Minnesota. An article in an 1887 mill paper brought the mill to the attention of Michael Schech, a master miller who had immigrated from Bavaria and was employed at one of the large mills in Minneapolis. Schech purchased the mill which was operated by Schech’s brother until 1890 when Michael Schech relocated their family to their Beaver Creek Valley home in Houston County. The mill became known as Schech’s Mill.
When Michael retired in 1913, Edward took over the operation. In 1922, a concrete dam replaced the old wooden one and two years later a concrete water wheel pit was constructed. After Edward’s death in 1941, his wife continued operating the mill for the next five years.
In 1946, Edward’s daughter, Eleanor, and her husband Ivan took over all mill operations. Eleanor and Ivan’s son Edward began helping with operations in 1960. “Every September their son Edward would come over and help clean the mud from the turbine pit”, said Ivan.
Since Eleanor and Ivan’s death Edward and his wife Joanie have run the mill. Schech’s Mill was nominated for the National Registry of Historic Places in 1977. At that time it was the only mill in the state to contain unchanged, operable milling equipment and to have its original stone. It is one of only three mills in the state to operate solely on water power
Proprietor: Edward Krugmire Call to schedule tour: 507-896-3481or 651-245-5566
OPEN: May 1st – October 31, 2012 (closed Sept 22 & 23)
Friday 1:00pm – 6:00pm
Saturday 8:00am – 6:00pm
Sunday 8:00am – 6:00pm
Ages 6 – 15 $1.00
Over 15- $5.00
Under 6 free
Samples: Whole Wheat Flour & Corn Meal
On a recent trip, we traveled about 500 miles through Minnesota, South Dakota, and North Dakota. A friend and co-worker made the statement “Wow, doesn’t the driving get boring when you are traveling from point A to point B?” After a smile formed, I answered “No, that is what makes the trip worth while”.
We are constantly on the lookout for that special something on our trips; an abandoned building or home, a long forgotten car, an adorable wild or farm animal, or just the way the light is hitting a particular item. Between the laughing, singing (which Dan loves), whistling, telling stories, making Daisy crowns :-), so on and so forth, we always have a great time on our travels. The “in-between” is where the fun comes in… A turn of the head or an Ooohh, Ahhh, humff, or sigh might escape our lips, which in turn notifies the other of an upcoming special treat. About 90% of the time, the slamming of the breaks or putting the car in reverse is followed by one of those subtle hints. It is the “in-between” that we all forget about at times- You know, those sights or people that we otherwise take for granted as we are passing from point A to point B.
My friends comment really made me realize just how important life is and was an important reminder to cherish those “in-between” times.
a mill, esp one equipped with large grinding stones for grinding grain.
We were tipped off earlier in the year about a gristmill located in Southern Minnesota that is still operational after all these years. After more research, we actually found a few within a days drive from home that we would like to visit. Our eyes opened to a beautiful June morning, so we decided to pack up our gear and the girls (Tindra and Audrey) and head out for a day trip to Southeastern MN in search of the whispered gristmills.
The first stop was the Pickwick Mill located near Winona, MN. Thomas Grant and Wilson Davis built the mill during the years 1856 to 1858 and is one of the oldest water powered gristmills found in southeast Minnesota. This old gristmill has some history as it ran 24 hours a day during the Civil War and produced 100 barrels daily for the Union Army. After the war, the mill became a flour-milling center for most of southern Minnesota and portions of Iowa and Wisconsin.
The mill was built from locally quarried limestone, with a timber frame that was so closely fit, that nails were not used (outside of the floor). The six-story building is now registered as a historic site by Pickwick Mill, Inc., a privately funded, non-profit organization.
As we walked into this old mill we were greeted by a courteous volunteer who was so eager to share its history. After a brief video, the volunteer went over to the water-shoot and opened the forces that powered this mill. As the creaking noise of the turning waterwheel became louder and louder, the vibration started and shook the entire building. Feeling the power of this mill straight down to your bones was an amazing sensation.
We had a great time learning about this mill and I would highly recommend a visit if you are ever in the area.
Click on the following link for more information: Pickwick Mill
Days and Hours of Operation
The Pickwick Mill will be open
* Weekends during May, September, and October
* Tuesday through Sunday during June, July, and August
Hours of operation:
10AM – 5PM Tuesday through Saturday
11AM – 5PM Sunday
Tours at other times available by appointment. Call 507-457-0499,
Tickets cost $3 adults, $2 teenagers over age 12, $1 children age 12 or under. Group tour prices available.
Off we go… Into the wild blue yonder to our next destination, Schech’s Mill located south of Houston, MN.