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Frizztext’s Story Challenge on Flickr Comments at http://flickrcomments.wordpress.com/  last week was the Letter G.

Graue Mill, located in Oak Brook, is the only remaining waterwheel gristmill that is still operating in Northeastern Illinois.  There is something about the water churning through the great wooden wheel that has drawn me to this spot on more than one occasion.

The mill, belonging to German born Frederick Graue, first began operations in 1852, grinding wheat, corn and other grains produced by local farmers.  This went on for about 70 years until, because of modern milling methods, the mill became obsolete.

Apart from its day to day operations Graue Mill was also known as a ‘station’ for black slaves who were looking to escape from bondage during the 1800’s, through ‘The Underground Railway’ system. Graue sheltered many of these slaves in the basement of the mill and there is a museum exhibit there now that details the important part the mill played in helping them to reach freedom.

On the upper floors of the mill are several interesting exhibits including a weaving loom, a farmer’s workshop, a pioneer kitchen and general store.

Volunteers are on hand to demonstrate spinning and weaving, and children are invited to help the ‘miller’ grind corn. There are also special events held throughout the year. September sees the annual  Civil War Encampment re-enacted by the 10th Illinois Regiment, and a Cornfest with home-made pies, taffy apples and lots of entertainment including games, races and a fishing tournament for kids.