There are very few grist mills remaining in the United States that still houses their original equipment. Constructed in 1860 by Melvin Marsh, Lidtke Mill in Lime Springs is one of these few. Offering visitors a rare look into the past, the mill’s interior is preserved in its entirety. The rollers, silk bolter, fanning mill, grain elevators and complex belt system remain exactly as they were in 1960 when Herman Lidtke closed up the business. The integrity of this special structure is credited to one of the millers named D.W. Davis, who built a brick veneer over the mill in 1915.
After it was sold, the operation was enlarged and wheat was ground night and day. During this time, the mill became famous for its superior quality flour, which was shipped to Eastern and European markets, and its buckwheat flour. The mill was later reopened with the main focus of feed grinding and generating electricity.
The Mill today is a historical site, resorted to take shape of a museum next to the dam it once operated with.
Start your tour by holding a handful of the tiny buckwheat seeds – the most commonly ground grain at Lidtke Mill. Follow the process of weighing,grinding and sifting. Imagine the loud hum of the belt system, the air filled with a fine dust and the grain elevators moving up and down through the floor. Discover how flour and livestock feed used to be made – not in a giant, mysterious factory, but in a small mill by a hardworking family and the power of the river.
Learn about the special French burr grinding stones that miller Herman Lidtke purchased from Governor Larrabee in Clermont, Iowa and the slow and muddy sixty-mile trek he had to make with over 5,600 pounds on his country wagon. Walk through the Miller’s house and see many unique furnishings from the late Victorian era including a bison horn stool D.W. Davis brought back to Iowa from the Wild West. Visit the mill’s “Dynamo Room” where electricity was generated for Chester and Lime Springs in the 1920’s and where the miller’s assistant John Peterson was electrocuted while wearing his wet slippers.
Set on the picturesque Upper Iowa River, the Lidtke Mill and Mill House are a regional treasure
- The Buckwheat Pancake Breakfast – the first Saturday in June
- The Lidtke Mill Lunch & Ice Cream Social – the second Sunday in July
- Memorial Day – Labor Day: Friday-Sunday, 1pm-4pm by appointment
- There is an admission charge of $5 adults and $3 students.