In Mazomanie we went to the old mill, now a restaurant and tavern. First our tour guide showed us the downstairs basement, where all the machinery was kept. We saw the place where little boys in the town would sneak downstairs, down to the cellar, and take their fishlines out of their pockets and fish for croppies through a hole in the floor.
They took the steel mill wheel out in the 1960s and replaced it with a turbine that was more efficient. You can if you go there still see the cogs and pulleys that they used to make flour. They still grind their own flour nowadays as a restaurant. They make a really good whole wheat bread on their mill equipment.
The dam was taken out a while ago by the DNR because it was a hazard. They get their grain from the mid-southwest and Mississippi Valley. To grind their grain, they stored the grain in the attic and pushed it down a chute to a wagon and/or train, to ship all over the world and the U.S.
The mill not only made flour, it also powered the community.
Transcription from the Tour Guide: People will just walk around and they look up at the ceiling and they look at different things and they are just so thrilled that this building is here and that it has not been torn down. Because you don’t find buildings like this everywhere that you go. It’s a very special place to work. It’s preserving a bit of our history, a bit of our past. If this building were torn down, and all the other buildings were torn down that were like it, as old as it, you guys would never have a chance to really see, to really feel what it’s like to be inside a building like this. It’s been empty for quite a few years and the owners, Dan and Nancy, had seen it and they just thought it was a wonderful building and they wanted to preserve it. There isn’t a need for a mill that’s grinding that much flour and grain right now here and they thought that having a restaurant and a gift shop, a lot of people could come to this building and enjoy it.
The water generated electricity, hydraulic power. This mill generated electricity for the whole village and Mazomanie was the first village to have electric lights back in the 1800s, street lights, and that was all powered because they had this mill. Now Mazomanie had electric street lights before Madison did.