The Smoky Valley Roller Mill was built in 1898. Unlike a grist mill which uses stones, a roller mill uses a series of corrugated rollers to grind grain. This type of mill, known as “the grand daddy of the modern mill” became important in this area with the introduction of hard winter wheat in 1870s. The mill operated as a business until1955, shipping flour across the U.S. and Europe.
The mill was originally water powered, utilizing turbines in the river. In the 1930s, the dam washed out. Fortunately, though, by this time, the owners of the mill had already installed electric power.
It took four to six people to operate the mill. At times it ran 24 hours a day. It processed 30-35 bushels of wheat per hour, which yielded 1260 to 1470 pounds of flour per hour.
Efforts to restore the mill to operating condition began in the 1960s and were completed in 1981. The National Register of Historic Places added the mill to their roster in 1972.
1872 Charles Johnson & C.R. Sundstrom operate first grist mill
1880 Flood waters damage mill
1882 J.G. Bergsten & Francis Johnson build second grist mill
1889 Grist mill converted to a modern roller mill
1890 Theo. Teichgraeber leases mill, adds steam power
1892 Theo. Teichgraeber purchases mill
1897 Mill burns down
1898 Present mill built by Teichgraeber
1903 Major flood damages property
1907 New dam installed. Mr. & Mrs. Teichgraeber pass away
1908 Sons Emil & Carl Teichgraeber operate mill
1910 Mr. & Mrs. William Hagstrom, Mr. & Mrs. Emmanuel Hagstrom purchase mill
1920s Mill closes for a time
1934 Runbeck brothers reopen mill
1930s Flood waters destroy dam
Mill operates with electrical power
1951 Kenneth & Edwin Johnson manage mill
1955 Mill closes
1962 Mill given to McPherson County
1974 George Tesarek begins restoration of mill machinery
1981 Restoration complete