photo by -Taylor Fife

More than 2,300 water power mills have disappeared from the Hoosier  state since John Adams built this structure more 155 years ago.

 

   




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Activity Book sold to help
fund restoration activities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The mill is a museum of Americana open to public for
tours on weekends and by special arrangement.

   Adams Mill is on Wildcat Creek. The little settlement around the mill is called Bolivar.  The land was settled around 1831 by John Adams, who, according to legend was somehow related to the second President of the United States.

    The road past the front door is surfaced with asphalt now instead of gravel and farmers drive powerful trucks instead of wagons pulled by teams of horses.

    Tradition says that John Adams tramped over the entire area from Lafayette eastward to Howard County, before he found the mill site that fulfilled his dreams.

    In its day, Wildcat Mills was a bustling commercial center. Farmers came from as far away as Crawfordsville, more than 50 miles to the southwest, and the mill sometimes operated 24 hours a day for several weeks at a time. Finely ground cake flour was a specialty of Adams Mill. Commercial milling stopped in the 1950's.

    About the time that John Adams erected Wildcat Mill, (1845) 2,348 similar mills dotted the banks of Indiana streams. Nearly half of them were grist mills. But today very few water powered mills are operated in Indiana and nearly all of them have auxiliary electric or steam power to assure operation during the low water operation.

    Wildcat Mill was strictly water power operation. There was such ample water to operate the milling machinery, for a short time, beginning in 1913, the mill generated enough electricity to sell the excess electricity to illuminate the near- by towns of Cutler, Sedalia, and Rossville.
John Adams knew his mill sites!

   
Photo provided by: Pat and Charlie Meade

   

 
   What amazing timber that mill has!   

    The mill is a fine example of post and beam construction used in the 1800s to build agricultural buildings in Indiana. Only wooden pegs were used in the original framework, no nails. All the lumber was harvested locally and hand-hewn on site.

    The flooring is 1 1/4-inch  popular. Vertical pillars are black walnut. Joists are 3x8-inch oak; studdings 4x4- inch poplar. There are 16 sills, all poplar, that are each 45 feet long 18 inches square- and  there  isn't  a  single  splice  in any one of them.

    The first (ground floor) contains mainly the bins and the old, small corner office. On the second floor, are the rolls for grinding. When installed in 1883 to replace the original stone burrs, they were of the latest design. One of the old burrs is still in place, and can be operated. The second floor also contains the scourers, cleaners, and flour packers.

    Bins for storage and the "silks" for bolting (sifting) flour are on the third floor. On the top floor, are the scalping reels to remove the bran from stock. All the endless  dipper-belt elevators terminate there.

    Beneath the ground floor and at ground level, were two metal turbines covered with 9 feet of water. One of the original wheels  was of 25 horsepower. Another wheel, put in in 1913, was of 40 horsepower.

    On the second floor and directly above the office is a little room that once housed the old post office of Wildcat, before it was moved to a near- by building. Later that building, post office and all, was moved to Cutler.

    At times, the hungry mill devoured nearly 10,00 bushels of wheat annually and up to 6,000 bushels of corn. Flour capacity was rated at 24 barrels a day. A barrel contains 96 pounds.

    One of the strangest features in the building is the chimney. Starting at the old office in one corner of the ground floor, it goes  in a slanting way, up to the crest of the roof above the fourth story. How it ever stays there and doesn't fall, seems a mystery.

    The Pennsylvania  Railroad was constructed less than a mile away around 1871. Cutler sprang up on the new railroad. Gradually, most businesses shifted to the railroad and soon only the mill remained.

 

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