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Old Mill State Park

By Jim Umhoefer
As you walk into the clearing, it’s as if you’ve stepped back into another century. To the left is Larson’s Mill, a simple building that was the business and social center for pioneer farmers, who would travel for miles to bring their grains to be milled. On the right, a log settler cabin faces the mill on the opposite side of the clearing. The steam-powered gristmill is the pride of the park and the Friends of Old Mill State Park group. It is operated once a year in August to demonstrate flour grinding. During Grinding Day, visitors can purchase a bagful of fresh stone-ground flour or bran and get an earful of pioneer tales and lore.

Old Mill State Park is located between Argyle and Newfolden just off the King of Trails Scenic Byway in Minnesota’s Marshall County.

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Visitors enjoy a day of old-fashioned fun on the park grounds by the old Larson Mill at Old Mill State Park

Visitors enjoy a day of old-fashioned fun on the park grounds by the old Larson Mill

WPA-built swinging bridge over Middle River at Old Mill State Park

WPA-built swinging bridge over Middle River

Belts drive the mill stones and sifting mechanisms at Old Mill State Park

Belts drive the mill stones and sifting mechanisms

The sifting mechanism of the grist mill fill bags of flour at Old Mill State Park

The sifting mechanism of the grist mill fill bags of flour

John Hess of the Friends of Old Mill State Park prtrays Lars Larson, one of the original settlers

John Hess of the Friends of Old Mill State Park prtrays Lars Larson, one of the original settlers

 

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Trails
There is a one-mile self-guided nature trail and seven miles of hiking trails. The 408-acre park has a spring fed swimming hole with a granite WPA beach house and picnic shelter, easily accessible from the trails.
Camping
The Middle River flows through the park and once powered a gristmill near the site of the steam-powered mill. The river was an unreliable source of power, sometimes overflowing its banks and taking the mill with it.
Today, the 26-site campground is a safe distance back, but still affords great river views. The group camp across the river has room for 100 campers.
Winter
Snowshoeing is allowed throughout the park, but no groomed trails exist.
Paul Bunyan Trail
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