For the 4th of July holiday, our little family headed up to Spring Mill State Park near Mitchell, Indiana for a couple of days.
Spring Mill is special to us for a couple of reasons — my husband has fond memories of camping there as a young Boy Scout, and just over 16 years ago, it’s where he asked me to marry him. We have visited a several times over the years, but this is the first time we’ve stayed overnight at the Spring Mill Inn.
Like many state parks, this one is filled with lots of tremendous family fun opportunities, but for today’s post, I’m going to focus on their beautiful Pioneer Village. It’s one of the best I’ve ever experienced.
Spring Mill State Park offers a powerful illustration of the link between the natural and cultural worlds. The water flowing from several cave springs led to the founding of an industrial village in the early 1800s. Pioneer entrepreneurs took advantage of a constant water source that never froze, using it to power several gristmills, a wool mill, a saw mill, and a distillery. In turn, pioneer settlers shaped the landscape around the village, clearing land for agriculture and timber. (from the website)
We actually spent some time over the course of two days at the Pioneer Village. There’s a lot to see, especially if you take the time to stop at each building to watch the historic interpreters honing their crafts, or spend time talking with them.
The restored Pioneer Village, founded in 1814, contains 20 historic buildings to explore. The centerpiece is the 3-story limestone Grist Mill, built in 1817. The mill is in operation today, and every hour you can watch as corn is ground into corn meal. They also bag and sell the corn meal right there, and use it to make corn bread on the dining hall in the Spring Mill Inn. You’ll find an historic interpreter at the mill every day, portraying the year 1863 and demonstrating period crafts. On our second day here, the broom maker was running the mill, so we got a double treat!
At Spring Mill, not every interpreter is available every day (they each have days off on either a Mon/Wed or Tues/Thurs schedule, so that everyone is available on the busy days — Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Because we were there on July 4th, all of the historic interpreters were on hand. Unfortunately, that meant that not everyone was there the next day, a Friday. We missed out talking with some, thinking that everyone would be there on Friday, as usual. We did see and speak with quite a few though — the miller, weaver, broom maker, leather worker, lace maker, and blacksmith among them.
One of my very favorite parts of the Pioneer Village was a lovely garden surrounded by a rock wall. Everything was in full bloom, with amazing colors and so many butterflies, bees, dragonflies, and birds. It was a nature-lover’s dream and I probably took 100 photos of flowers and insects. I’ll spare you from having to look through all of those and just share a few of my favorites.
And then finally — Spring Mill is the perfect place for an impromptu photo shoot with my handsome boy. I didn’t take a lot of these kinds of photos because we were tired and dirty, but I definitely think we’ll head back up there in the fall for Ben’s 7th Grade pictures. I’d love to take a few folks with me to practice different kinds of shots as well. So, friends? Who wants to join me?
3333 State Road 60 E.
Mitchell, IN 47446
Open Daily from May thru mid-October, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.