One of our clients ask us for some images of LaGrange County in Northern Indiana. One of the places on their list was the Greenfield Mills near Howe, Indiana. Upon arrival at the location, Debbie and I were searching for something that would make a good photograph out of an old white building with patched siding and a faded green sign across the top of the building. Our first thought was that this was going to be difficult to produce something our client would find of interest.
The Mill was closed but the lights were on inside, so we headed back to the car to find something on their list more photo-genic around the County, when a man arrived on a golf cart from a farm house across the street. Turned out that this was David Rinkel, the 4th generation owner of the Mill. His Great-Grandfather had purchased the Mill in 1904. With a big smile, seeing our cameras, he asked us if we would like to see the inside of the Mill. And of course we did!
I was not prepared for what happened next! The Mill is totally different than any Mill that we had ever seen! Not only is it the oldest operating Mill in Indiana, it has been powered by the Electricity that it produces, since 1925. All of the grinding machines are powered by electric motors instead of gears and leather belts. Instead of the waterwheel or water powered turbines turning big wooden gears like the Mills at Spring Mill State Park, Bridgeton, and many others that we have visited, this water powered turbine drives a generator that produces enough power to supply electricity to about 11 homes a couple of barns and two Mills! Making it the smallest Power Company in Indiana.
Not only did we get to visit a Mill powered by electricity, which was a first for us, the main generator was dissembled due to a lightning strike and some of the coils were being re-wound, giving me (Debbie tolerates my tech stuff fairly well) the opportunity to photograph the main generator 'inside out'.
David talked at length to Debbie about Flour. We had little knowledge of the difference in flours, just that there are several kinds on the grocery shelves. Now she feels she has a much better understanding of what makes a pastry flour or a bread flour or a general purpose flour, etc. This could mean more and better pies for me! (as if I need them) And, Yes, there is a Huge difference in the types of Flour.
So, in your travels, this is a place well worth checking out in Northern Indiana. David Rinkel was a delightful person to meet and was so willing to share the knowledge he has attained over many years of running this Mill. Unfortunately, the Mill may be permanently closed, Check on Facebook for Greenfield Mills before making a trip, but if it is open, it is well worth the drive from any part of Indiana, Ohio, or Michigan.