A Visit to the Cedar Creek Grist Mill

On a late summer afternoon, with my car windows rolled down, I traveled slowly down a wooded drive. I could hear Cedar Creek rushing over boulders as it cut through a small gorge. The air temperature became pleasant and I breathed in the sweet smell of the fir needles and duff from the forest floor. Rounding the corner, my mouth dropped open when I saw this massive covered bridge, and I knew I was about to treat myself to something special. IMG_0018 It’s not every day, I get to drive through a covered bridge, so I pulled off the road and had to take another picture.IMG_0019

A foot path is attached to the right side of the bridge. IMG_0017 And the grist mill is in the background.

IMG_0020 This is the front of the Cedar Creek Grist Mill that you’ll see from the parking area.

IMG_0021The man in the background is a volunteer at the Grist Mill and he is telling the story of George Woodham and his sons, who built this structure in 1876. Families throughout Clark County, Washington, brought their grains to be ground into flour and livestock feed.

The Grist Mill has had several owners over the years. Today it is state owned. In 1961 Ft. Vancouver Historical Society had the site listed on the United States Register of Historical Places and replaced the rotting foundation, stabilizing the building. In 1980 “Friends of the Cedar Creek Grist Mill” (a nonprofit) began work to restore and repair damage from weather and vandals. Today the Cedar Creek Grist Mill is a National Historic Landmark. It is the only grain grinding mill in Washington state to have maintained its structural integrity; grinding with stones and water power.  Grains are ground using a Buhr Mill.

IMG_0023 To run the generator and the Buhr Mill requires 47 gallons per second! That’s 2829 gallons per minute and 170,000 gallons per hour. That’s a bit over 11 tons of water per minute!

Two ladies, dressed in the style of the late 1800’s, representing Tumwater’s Crosby House Museum, visited the Cedar Creek Grist Mill the same day I happened upon it. I couldn’t resist taking a photo or two as I stepped back in time.   Eliza Jane Ostrander, wife of pioneer Dr. Nathaniel Ostrander, stands looking out the window toward Cedar Creek and the covered bridge.

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 This is what she was looking at through the window. IMG_0028

I picked up a recipe for corn bread while I was there. I’ll go back one day when they are grinding corn, pick some up and make this recipe. I think I’ll add the bacon and cheese!

Perfect Corn Bread

1 cup flour

¼ cup sugar

4 teaspoons baking powder

¾ teaspoon salt

1 cup cornmeal

2 eggs

1 cup milk

¼ cup shortening

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, salt; stir in the cornmeal. Add eggs, milk, and shortening. Beat until smooth. (Do not overbeat.) Pour into a greased 9x9x2” pan. Bake at 425 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.

Options: Add 1 cup cooked, crumbled bacon, or 1 cup shredded cheese, or 3 to 4 seeded and deveined jalapeno peppers to the mix before baking.

Stop by and visit the Cedar Creek Grist Mill if you visit Clark County in SW Washington.

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