RIDGEFIELD — John Clapp, president of Friends of the Cedar Creek Grist Mill, welcomed students on field trips from Wisdom Ridge Academy. He hauled out long wooden benches where the Ridgefield School District students could sit, then shared the story of the mill, which has been standing since 1876.
Clapp demonstrated for the Wisdom Ridge students how the mill worked. Students gathered around the milling equipment. A volunteer turned a metal wheel slightly, and the entire mill jumped to life. The students watched as the strength of the water started a system of belts and gears in motion, powering the mill to grind thick wheat kernels into flour in seconds.
Afterward, the students ran their hands through samples of corn and cornmeal, wheat and flour. Outside, they wandered down a path for a side view of the mill, where they got a better idea of how the mill worked. They could watch water being diverted from the rushing creek into the flume, flowing into the huge turbine and creating power.
Cedar Creek Grist Mill is on the National Register of Historic Places as the only grain-grinding mill in Washington that has retained its structural integrity, grinds with stones, and is water-powered. The Friends of the Cedar Creek Grist Mill is all volunteer and donation-driven, running regular events that include Blueberry Pancake Day in July and Apple Cider Pressing Day in October.