If you are looking for a serene and educational outing, you should consider visiting the Cedar Creek Grist Mill in Woodland, just north of Vancouver. This national historic landmark was built in 1876. In the 1800s this water-powered mill was a place where people from all over the county came to grind their grains into flour or sometimes even grind their livestock feed. Currently, it is the only grain-grinding mill in the state of Washington.
Today the mill is still in great working condition. Volunteers who are called the Friends of Cedar Creek Grist Mill work the mill and demonstrate how the process of grinding works. One beautiful Sunday afternoon I took my family to visit. I was happily surprised to see the the mill in action and to learn that every person was welcome to take free bags of flour, cornmeal and more.
Children are asked to volunteer to help with the grinding process. My daughter was chosen to help place the bags of flour, etc. into a place for people to take them home. We were impressed by the way that the mill works. We saw huge, spinning pulleys and belts near the ceiling that power the grinding process. This is a water-powered mill, and it takes a lot if water to power it – 2,829 gallons per minute, to be exact! That is a little over 11 tons of water per minute. No gas or electricity are used to power this beautiful mill. The volunteer scoops out grains from huge, silver garbage cans and puts the grain into the grinder. The sounds of the pulley and grinding make it difficult to hear anything else. The mill begins grinding the grains, and soon you see powder coming out of the bottom of the mill machine.
The volunteer continues in a loud voice to be heard over the mill to explain how the process works. Within his talk he explains some of the history of this amazing museum and national historic landmark. I found it fascinating to learn that a migrant miller and his two sons built the mill in 1876. It was first named the Red Bird Mill. The mill went on in 1889 to become the center of many activities, including dancing and musical entertainment performances. It continued to go through many owners until 1961, when it was leased by the Fort Vancouver Historical Society. It is now cared for by the Friends of Cedar Creek Grist Mill, which was formed in 1980 by a group of local residents who wanted to see the mill restored.
The Grist Mill is a beautiful sight from the outside. Its wooden structure appears to be frozen in time, as if it still belongs in the 1800s. The mill continues to be restored as it was originally built. The funds and materials have been donated by various businesses and people.
After watching how the mill works, we went outside to see the breathtaking, wooden covered bridge that overlooks the Cedar Creek. This bridge is beautiful and was created in 1994 to replace the old bridge that was falling apart.
There are trails you can take down the creek. On the trail you can catch glimpses of the 650-foot flume that generates the power for the mill. This awe-inspiring view set in nature is a great escape from the busy city life. There are also four picnic tables located south of the mill building, so make plans to bring a picnic lunch if you would like. The mill is very family-friendly.
You can call to schedule a group tour during the weekdays or come on the weekends when it is open to the public on Saturdays from 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. and Sundays from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m.
With your free bag of flour or cornmeal, there are free recipes available to take home.
After experiencing the mill myself, I highly recommend taking the scenic drive out into the country and experiencing this beautiful landmark for yourself.
Cedar Creek Grist Mill
43907 NE Grist Mill Road
Woodland, WA 98674
Follow the Cedar Creek Grist Mill on Facebook.
Open Saturday from 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. and Sunday from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m.