Trails and Treasures Home Page  Road Trips  Across America 2004

Lindsborg, Kansas

My original reason for including Lindsborg in my itinerary was to do the year round volksmarch.  However, it was much too cold and wet for that.  Instead I visited the Old Mill Museum, and while I breezed through a exhibit on the 123 one-room schools in McPherson County, I found the Smoky Valley Roller Mill to be fascinating.

The Smoky Valley Roller Mill was built in 1898 and operated until 1955.  It processed 30-35 bushels of wheat per hour, yielding 1260 to 1470 pounds of flour per hour.  Restored to working condition in 1981, the mill is now put into operation one day each year—the first Saturday in May. 

A roller mill differs from a grist mill in that it uses a series of corrugated steel rollers to grind the grain.  The mill has three floors plus a basement with square-cut, rather than round, ducts that move the wheat up and down between the mill’s floors.  The wheat is first dumped into a chute leading to the basement storage bins.  It’s moved by elevator to the third floor for separating and scouring.  A small amount of water is added in the tempering bins as it falls to the first floor and passes through the rollers.  The flour is sent back up to the third floor for sifting.  Each sifter contains 20 screens which separate the product by size.  Down on the second floor the bran duster separates the bran from the flour.  The bran is sold as livestock feed.  The floor then goes through the purifier, then back up to the third floor to the flour dresser.  Here the flour is mixed and aerated while any remaining course granules or lint are removed.  It’s then forwarded to the holding bins on the second floor.  The packing machines are on the first floor. 

Across the street from the mill are several old buildings from the area (school, UP depot, chapel, etc.), a set of fake old buildings that house old farm machinery and other exhibits, and the Swedish Pavilion from the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904.  After the exposition, the building was moved to Bethany College.  It was restored to its original condition at its current site in the 1970s.