Busti Grist Mill Dedication Set For Sunday Afternoon

BUSTI – The Busti Grist Mill that once produced flour for bread to keep Busti residents fed will be in production again for another worthy cause.

On Sunday, a grand opening and community dedication ceremony will be held starting at 1 p.m. at the mill, located at 3443 Lawson Road, Busti. The mill has been fully restored to produce flour once again. The flour now made at the resurrected mill isn’t as important for the survival of the community as it was in 1839 when the building was constructed. However, the money used from the new production of flour will go toward the continued operation of the nationally registered historic facility.

The dedication ceremony will include those who worked so long on the renovated mill: From the three Busti Shamrocks 4-H Club girls who started restoration efforts in 1969 to Joseph Gerace Sr., Busti supervisor at the time, who made efforts to generate interest in restoring the mill as an alternative to demolition.

Norman Carlson, Busti Historical Society spokesman, said a history and a demonstration of the mill will occur during the dedication. Also, music will be played by Old Dawg Bluegrass Band.

“We will be dedicating the mill to the community,” he said. “We want more people to take an interest in this. This was done for future generations to see.”

Carlson said renovating the mill started in 1971. At the time, early volunteers thought it would only take a few years to restore the historic facility. Even though it has been longer than a few years, 42 to be precise, their efforts were not wasted as the mill has been restored to working order.

Along with the re-creation of the mill, more positives have come about because of the renovation project. One bonus, the Busti Historical Society was formed in 1972. The second, and probably most important for craft lovers, was the formation of the Busti Apple Festival. The festival has been the main fundraiser for the mill resurrection project.

In 1972, the original Busti Pioneer Crafts Festival was held in September to raise money. The crafts festival evolved into the Busti Apple Festival in 1975, and has been held the last weekend in September ever since.

“It was one of the first craft shows in the area,” Carlson said. “It takes a lot of work, and what is made from it gets kicked into the mill project.”

Carlson said his family has been volunteers on the project since the beginning. When he thinks of the restoration of the mill to working condition, his first thoughts are about all the volunteers who worked countless hours to see the facility run again.

“My first thought is I wish my folks were still alive, especially my father,” he said.

The mill was built by Frances Sowl, who died shortly after construction was complete. From there, Carlson said 15 men and nine families owned it until it was closed around 1959.

The three-story structure has turbines, millstones, wooden elevator-chutes and a bolting reel for distributing the grain, with many working pieces from its historic era. Originally, the mill worked through a water-fed system that turned three turbines to move stones to grind the grain that was then passed on – like an assembly line – to the bolting reel to be sifted. Today, the mill runs similarly, only it is no longer powered by water, but by electricity.