I’m so glad you asked that. I happen to have a few pictures right here! I confess to you that I was pleased indeed to have spoon bread pop up on the request list this week, since it was only a couple of weeks ago that I happened to visit a pristinely maintained — and still-running — grist mill in southern Indiana. This facility, located within the aptly-named Spring Mill State Park, was built about 190 years ago. It’s one of the bigger mills from that era that I’ve seen, and as you can see from the photo, it has a work area at the front where the energy from the water wheel can be diverted for wood sawing. The water that powers the mill comes down from a spring located uphill from the mill, via a very impressive aqueduct.
Inside, the wooden gears that transfer the torque from the wheel to the grinding stones are equally impressive.
Right in the center there is the hopper where the corn goes in, leading to the spinning mill stones.
The finished product pours right out into this bin here.
Pretty great stuff. And as you’d expect, my family had to literally drag me out of there, I was asking the mill operator so many darn questions. The whole place was swarming with Amish tourists (yes, the Amish go on vacation, the impulse is universal). Lots of Amish live in southern Indiana, so it makes sense. However watching so many women in bonnets and men in suspenders walking around, it was easy to pretend I’d stepped through a time machine into Colonial America, where I found that corn was as central to life then as it is today. Speaking for myself, I find that a comfort.