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Down By the Old Mill Stream

by Richie

Spring Mill State Park
Mitchell, IN
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There’s no denying that we are State Park enthusiasts. The parks are usually dedicated around some feature that we enjoy, like a historic site or a geological wonder. Many are thoughtfully laid out, with plenty of green spaces and a network of hiking trails. The larger parks also have a hotel with a dining room that we look forward to visiting.

We found on our first trip to Spring Mill State Park that it was loaded with all these amenities, plus some unique attractions to boot.

The Inn

Spring Mill’s central feature is a working mill, complete with water wheel, grindstone, and water-powered sawmill. The mill’s awesome wood and iron engineering is demonstrated every hour, fascinating to watch.


The mill is centered in a large complex of pioneer village structures, each housing old-timey artifacts and many offering living museum demonstrations by expert craftsmen. We encountered the blacksmith, leather worker, broom maker, weaver, and herbalist – all bustling with the activities of their trade.


 The small, clear spring which feeds the mill also winds prettily through the main picnic area, and we saw lots of folks unable to resist the temptation to kick off their shoes and go for a wade. This was good summer fun at its finest!

This area is threaded with underground springs, and the park has several wet caves. We took a $3 tour on a small boat through Twin Caves, guided by a park ranger who gently pushed us through the cavern and spotted with a flashlight the odd formations and blind water creatures.

The astronaut Gus Grissom is a hometown hero, and a good size museum is dedicated to this space pioneer. Grissom was an early space program veteran, piloting missions for the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs. He died tragically in a fire on the launch pad while conducting a routine test for Apollo 1 – a prep mission for landing on the moon.

There are numerous hiking trails in Spring Mills, including one that winds through old-growth forest where some trees have reached 300 years old. But alas, we ran out of time and couldn’t see it all in one weekend. Which begs for a return trip!

1 comment

Deckyon September 17, 2013 - 6:34 pm

We used to go to Spring Mill every fall when I was growing up, for as long as I can remember. They used to do a “Haunted Village” at the Mill, where families and kids would take an after-dark tour through the village dressed for Halloween. We would do the full weekend, staying in the Inn and hiking and going through the caves both days.

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