Grist Mills in Wright County
Grist mills were a necessity back in the day! Also called corn mills or feed mills, almost every type of grain could be run thru the mills. Huge stones or rollers were used to grind the grains into particles which could be used for eating or baking. If a grist mill was not located in the local town, farmers would have to take their grain miles to get it ground.
In the 1872 the first grist mill was built by William Minor in Clarion, where the farmer’s elevator is now located. It was powered by a large windmill – which was not very successful because if there was no wind, everything came to a standstill. In early 1874an ad mentioned that the mill was producing good flour, and encouraged people to get their flour locally.
In the late 1898 a large four-story steam powered grist mill was built by J O Stearns on west Central Ave, near the train tracks. Lit by electric lights, the mill had a daily capacity of 75 barrels of flour, 1800 bushels of feed, and 1,000 bushels of buckwheat, rye, and cornmeal.
Pride of Clarion flour was advertised in the Wright County Monitor thru 1906. When the mill first opened, it was said there was no reason to ship wheat to Minnesota to be
ground and shipped back, and that this part of Iowa was naturally wheat growing country.
Meanwhile, Belmond had a water run mill as early as 1874. A new mill was built in 1901,considered to be state of the art. Rowan also had a mill along the Iowa River. It was located in the third section of Blaine Township, lower west corner, according to an 1885map.