The Lewis Mill in Daviess County

Courthouse records show 23 grain mills operated in Daviess County prior to the Civil War. Not all of these were water-powered, and few if any mills west of the Mississippi River were like the Lewis Mill.

Courthouse records show 23 grain mills operated in Daviess County prior to the Civil War. Not all of these were water-powered, and few if any mills west of the Mississippi River were like the Lewis Mill.

The original mill built about 1855 was rebuilt in 1863 by Eramus Lewis, using an outward flow reaction turbine. Water flow amplified by a 100Šfoot race tunnel powered a horizontal turbine wheel rather than a traditional water wheel. Despite modifications, the Lewis Mill did not have sufficient power to perform grinding profitably. In 1876 the tunnel caved in beyond repair.

In 1878 the mill sold and was refitted but continued in declining use. Eventually, the weathered building fell victim to the torrential waters of an untamed Grand River during the afternoon of May 25, 1899.

Silt entombed portions of al three mills which operated at the site until bridge builders cut into the timber remains in November, 1989. Bridge construction abruptly stopped. Excavation revealed many mill parts, most unusual being the wooden water turbine wheel still intact.

Detailed information about grist milling, particularly the Lewis Mill, is available at the Daviess County Library.