Friends of the
Pine Creek Grist Mill
The Friends of the Mill have restored much of the machinery
in the old mill and the mill is a great interpretive site. To make
the most of this historical site Friends of the Mill have developed
an extensive interpretive program consisting of three main aspects:
- Host visitors during the warm season.
- Organize and host a school interpretation program.
- Organize special events to showcase the mill.
Summer Staffing Program
Once again this
past summer the mill was open weekends in May, and then again just
weekends in September and early October. During the summer months,
the mill was open Wednesdays through Sundays. The Friends of the
Mill staffed the Old Mill 88 days in 2013. During regular open hours
the mill had 6405 visitors for a visitation rate of 18.2 visitors
Hours were 12:30 PM to 4:30 PM. Usually we had one person
working on weekdays and two people working on weekends. On weekends
we were also assisted by a park naturalist who came into the mill to
assist in running the mill. The mill was run grinding grain into
flour on Saturdays and Sundays at 1:30 PM and 3 PM.
The cost to staff the mill for the regular schedule was approximately
$15,000. We do not charge admission to the mill. Funds to hire
tour guides for the summer are almost all raised from donations. It
is only because of the generous support of various businesses and
individuals that the Friends of the Mill manage to keep the doors of
the mill open.
School Interpretive Program
The Pine Creek Grist Mill is a popular
school field trips, and May is the month for field
The program makes for a very busy May for the
of the Mill. By the end of the month we have
ourselves hoarse, but it is one of our most
had a near record of 1546 children and
on school field trips to learn about the
in the 1800’s, and the park.
We did increase the
number of participating schools to fifteen. We
have our spring 2014 schedule full.
- Adults accompanying students: 345
- Hours of staff time by FOM: 438
- Hours donated by volunteers: 291.5
- Staff cost: $3,960.00
- Number of presentations given: 387
- Number of schools participating: 15
In addition to
the May school tours we also host a few other tours. These include
homeschool groups, bus tours, community groups and any other group
that wants a tour. This fall we hosted 34 students from China.
The third part of our interpretive program is to put on two special
events at the old mill. The special events help interpret the mill
and bring its historical heritage to the people of Iowa and
Illinois. The biggest event by far was Heritage Day on Sept. 21st.
Heritage Day was then followed by the Ghost of Pine Creek on Oct.
Heritage Day is a great family day. It was similar
to past years with lots of presenters doing everything from tatting,
helping kids saw logs, taking old time photos, making baskets,
demonstrating old time games, and many other activities. Plus there
was music, antique cars to look at, a blacksmith and more. We also
ran the mill for twenty minutes every hour. On Heritage Day the
whole mill is open and all the machinery can be viewed as the
machinery is running.
was different this year because of the log cabin. The partially
rebuilt cabin allowed us to create a 1-day historical village that
included pioneer cooking, a blacksmith, and Old Time Tools. A
fiddler added to the historical feel. Volunteers were on the cabin
site to talk about their rebuilding of the 1850’s log cabin.
We have no way to accurately count the number of people at Heritage
Day. There is no “one” entrance and we run a shuttle bus between the
mill area and the Buckskinners Rendezvous in the west end of the
park, so cars are parked all over the park. To get a count that we
can compare with other years we station someone at the front door
and count people going into the mill. This is not even a count of
the people who enter the mill since the basement door is also open.
But it does give us a number we can compare from year to year. This
year’s front door count was 840. The shuttle bus drivers count a
similar number. The number of visitors was down a bit, but it was
still a successful day.
Ghosts of Pine Creek
Pine Creek” in October is a popular family event.
however, are not scary but are actually people dressed up in period
costumes to represent people (ghosts) from the past. The ghosts give
short presentations on what it was like to live in the past. This
year’s Ghost event had a Roaring 20’s theme.
adults and children came for a fun evening of learning about
history. Our ghosts came out to tell what life was like in
Muscatine during the roaring 20’s. On our hike we first met with
Cora and Stanley Baker. Stanley had just gotten off work from his
Uncle’s radio station and was telling his Mom all about his busy
day. As we traveled further on the trail we entered the world of
Norman Baker’s K-TNT Radio Station. Norman shared lots of his
thoughts on his building and we even were able to stick around for
one of his Home Folks Hour shows. Strolling down the pumpkin lit
paths we came upon a young girl named Pearl McGill. She told of her
challenges in Muscatine and her journey in the work she did with the
button industry. Next stop was in the basement of Pine Creek Grist
Mill where we met a worker who shared the story of the day the
boiler system caught fire and blew a flue. We were even able to peek
in the boiler and see what it looked like. We also learned that this
was the point when Mike Missel started to consider selling the
Mill. As we climbed the stairs we were met by the music playing on
a Victor. A woman was all dressed in her flapper outfit ready to
hit the town with her husband. He was taking her to the local Hotel
for fine dining and an evening at the secret Speak Easy. Another
set of stairs put us in the dust room where we were greeted and
entertained with a ghostly story. At the tour’s end we came to the
general store area where we were able to have a sweet drink and
social time. A grand time was had by all who attended.
A new part of
our interpretation program should be ready next year. Amazing
progress has been made rebuilding an 1850’s log cabin. The cabin
was donated to us about 15 years ago. About a year ago the Friends
of the Mill decided it was time to get the log cabin rebuilt. We
have already used it as part of Heritage Day. When rebuilt, the log
cabin will be used as part of the school interpretation program and
during Heritage Day. Other visitors will be able to visit the
outside of the cabin any time they wish.
The mission of the Friends of Pine Creek Grist Mill is to “restore,
preserve and interpret the Pine Creek Grist Mill”. Much of the
machinery has been restored and the old mill is a great historic
site, grinding grain into flour as it was done 160 years ago. The
Friends of the Mill interpretive program served thousands of people
in 2013. Our visitation during the summer was one of the best ever
with 6405 visitors. In addition we served a near record of 1346
students and adults and hopefully increased their understanding of
our pioneer heritage. The two big special events were well attended.
The coming year we will again hire tour guides, staff the mill, host
school field trips, put on special events and most definitely we
will keep ourselves busy. As a volunteer organization we are always
in need of more volunteers. If you or someone you know would like to
help the Friends of the Mill by talking to school groups, being a
tour guide, donating funds, helping to restore machinery, or in any
way you want, please con-tact the president of Friends of the Mill: