Dedicated to the history, preservation, and continuing story of windmills in Illinois.
Franklin Creek Grist Mill
Franklin Creek State Park
1872 Twist Rd
Franklin Grove, IL 61031
Tours are available during open hours. No admission is required, but a small donation is requested toward the mill's operating funds. The mill grinds during the last weekend of the month.
April through October
Saturday: Noon to 4:00 P.M.
Sunday: Noon to 4:00 P.M.
Closed / non-operational during winter.
All levels via elevator.
(1847 - 1896) (1999 - present) Wheat
(1847 - 1896) (1999 - present) Corn
(1843 - 1847) Original
(1992 - 1999) Reconstruction
Rev. Joseph Emmert (Original)
Christian Lahman (Original)
Franklin Creek Preservation Area Committee (Reconstruction)
Rev. Joseph Emmert (1847 - ?)
Christian Lahman (1847 - ?)
(unknown) (? - 1896)
Franklin Creek State Park (1999 - present)
Personal records / observations
The Franklin Creek Grist Mill
Photo from the Franklin Creek Preservation Area Committee
History of the Mill
The Franklin Creek Grist Mill that stands today is an accurate, modern reconstruction of a water-powered grist mill that once stood near that site in Franklin Grove. It is the only water-powered grist mill in operation in Illinois, and one of just two operating water mills in Illinois (the other is the Graue Mill, but grinding is powered by an electric motor).
The story of the original mill begins in 1843 when Reverend Joseph Emmert and Christian Lahman came to the area from Maryland. Curiously, the men chose to construct their mill a distance from the nearest water source; however, this would prevent the mill building from falling victim to floods, and it provided ease of access by customers. A great deal of earth had to be moved, which was accomplished by hand-digging and horse-driven plow. A very long mill race was constructed to deliver power to the water wheel.
The mill had a successful run until about 1896 when decreased water flow ceased operation. Its usefulness outlived the wind-powered grist mill in Franklin Grove, constructed by the Lahman family, which was converted to a tile factory before it was torn down in 1900. Timbers from both mills were incorporated into other area buildings.
The all-volunteer Franklin Creek Area Preservation Committee was created in 1987 with the hope of reconstructing the water mill in their town. Funded completely through donations, the organization began reconstructing the mill on nearly the same site in 1992. This mill, which would be completely operational, would also be completely accessible with an elevator running through all four floors of the mill, allowing visitors to enjoy every aspect of mill operation. The mill was completed in 1999, and continues to operate through the efforts of the committee.