SAVE THIS MILL
Contributed by MONTELL SEELEY
“The Bicknell Gristmill (Nielsen Gristmill) is about to die”!
It was by pure coincidence that I learned of this old unique old gristmill. We had traveled from Castle Dale to Boulder to attend a barn dance. Kathryn, my wife noticed this old frame building and suggested we stop and take a few photos. So we did.
The owner, Don Sampson, gave us a tour. He showed us that one section of the sandstone foundation had collapsed, leaving two of the main foundation crossbeams hanging in midair. The building was sagging badly. It was obvious that if these two beams were not soon supported, part of the building would collapse.
As I stood and look at the building, I felt an urgency to do something. The building is not mine; it isn’t even in my hometown; it isn’t even in my county. But as we drove home I kept thinking about it. I became obsessed with the need to go back down and save the building. So the following Saturday, we made the two-hour back to Bicknell. With a 20-ton Jack we jacked up the building and put timbers underneath the foundation stringers as temporary support. Sometime I’ll put a concrete foundation under it, but the timbers will do for now.
The mill needs a new roof! Inside, the mill still has all o the original flour-milling machinery; the sifters, the wooden elevators, wooden grain spouts, wooden pulley wheels, wooden augers, scales, ledger desk—everything. It even has the original water-driven turbine.
If all of these items are to be preserved, we absolutely must put on a new roof. This roof job is a 911 emergency. I am going to donate my time to strip off the old wood shingles, pull out a “million” nails, and lay down the new roof. Look at the height of the eaves! I’ll have to stack up four sets of scaffolds to reach them. Then I’ll have to tie two lariats together and pull every sheet of plywood up to my platform before I can even begin to nail them in place. Look at the pitch of the roof! I am willing to risk my life and catwalk around on that roof, but I’m searching for someone who will donate the materials.
The building also needs a drain line to eliminate seep water in the basement.
I am only talking here about saving the building. Many additional actions will have to be taken if the mill is to be restored.
I remember that when I was just a little boy in Castle Dale we had a gristmill built by my grandfather in 1893. When I was nine years old I remember watching with a sad heart as the old mill burned to the ground---a tragic death. I hope I won’t see the Bicknell Grist Mill die.
Note: If you would like to help, contact
Montell Seeley at 435-381-2195 or at the
Preservation Office at 801-533-3500