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Hometown Tourist: Pickwick Mill

Pickwick, Minnesota may be a small, unincorporated community, but it has a long history of churning up the past.

"It took four years to put this building up," Vic Gardner, Pickwick Mill’s caretaker said. "We’ve been working on it since about 1982 to restore it. Years ago a storm had taken the roof off. It leaked like a sieve and destroyed the building. So in 1980 they were going to tear this all down, and the local people got together and formed Pickwick Mill, Inc."

The mill is only one of a handful of it’s kind left in the country, in such a quality condition.  Many parts inside are over a century old, yet still operational. Five employees used to grind flour there 24 hours a day.

Even though it’s no longer churning out products, it still has the capability to do so and people can watch out it all works. 

"This mill is just an unbelievable myriad of gears an pulleys and mechanisms to make things work," Douglas Hubbard, a board member for the mill said. "It’s fun to show people the history of the milling process."

Perhaps the biggest draw is the functioning water wheel, that takes thousands of parts in the six-story mill to get going. 

"There are very few around the world that’s been restored like this. We have to make our parts. It’s a one time deal, when it’s gone it’s gone. There is no more history," Gardner added.

Now they are trying to preserve the past, but relying on the future. Giving tours, and hoping it will plant a seed in the next generation, to keep it going.

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For another adventure make sure to check back next Wednesday for a new episode of Hometown Tourist and a chance to make the La Crosse area your own.


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