In the early 1900’s, the Cline & Cline Aetna Roller Mill was located in Gallatin. It was well known due to the good management of W.G. and Peter Cline.
The mill was built in 1881 and had a capacity of 80 barrels of flour and 200 barrels of meal per miller’s day. It was located four blocks southwest of the public square and embraced a 157×209 foot plot of land. The frame building was 40×40 foot and was four stories high. It had the best and the newest equipment on the market. Aside the main structure was a receiving and flour room with adjoining elevators.
The trademarks of the mill were Sunbeam (soft) and Old Dutch (hard). Unfortunately, on July, 1903, a fire was started by a hot box around midnight just a few minutes after the workers left after a long shift to get 300 sacks of flour for Princeton.
At this time the mill proper had two car loads of flour and feed ready for shipment and about 100 bushel of wheat. It was estimated the loss was about $2,500 with only $8,500 insurance being $6,500 on the building and about $2,000 in its stock which included 2,000 bushel of wheat and corn. Fortunately, the firm’s books and accounts were saved because they were located in an old fashion iron safe.
The mill fire was the first fire of any size that Gallatin had experienced in over a year. The fire fighting was hindered due to the aging of the equipment. The fire hose was rotten with age and had been slightly unused causing it to break constantly.
The mill was moved to a temporary location at the Farmers Exchange Bank and had their books and accounts there. Plans were to build a new structure at least double the capacity of the mill destroyed. Arrangements were made for a mill at Cameron to supply their trade until they could replace the Gallatin mill.
In 1916, the Atena mill again caught on fire. The new structure had three floors and a sheet iron covering on the outside. The engine room and the sheds were saved, but the main three stories and the basement section were totally destroyed. The cause of the fire was unknown, but it was believed it started near the corn sheller. The monetary loss was about $14,000 and there was $9,000 worth of insurance. The quantity of some of the goods lost included flour, feed stuff, and about 2,500 bushel of wheat.
The mill lay vacant a few years and the children were found skating on the old mill pond in the winter months. The lot was later given to the Lion’s Club for a park.
Written by Wilbur Bush, Gallatin