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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Pine Creek Grist Mill Heritage Day - Wildcat Den State Park

Visitors to the Pine Creek Grist Mill Heritage Day will find several new additions to the annual celebration Saturday, Sept. 19.

Tom Hanifan, president of the Friends of the Mill, coordinators of the event, said new live demonstrations will include basket-making by a weaving team, lace- making, traditionally known as tatting, and an antique tractor display by residents from the Walnut Grove area near Eldridge.

A local wood carver has also volunteered to demonstrate his craft.

In addition to the traditional offering of homemade pies and ice cream, A Guy and a Grill of Muscatine will sell freshly grilled sandwiches.

Heritage Day is an annual fundraiser staged by the Friends of the Pine Creek Grist Mill. The non-profit group, which was formed in 1996, is dedicated to the restoration and preservation of the 162-year-old grist mill located at Wild Cat Den State Park.

All proceeds from the event go toward Mill-related work and preservation.

On Heritage Day, visitors can see the results of the group’s restoration efforts as the mill once again grinds corn.

Tom Hanifan, president of Friends of the Mill, said it is difficult to track the number of people who attend Heritage Day, but he estimates the count between 1,500 and 2,000.

The free event includes a free shuttle service between the Pine Creek Grist Mill and the Buckskinners’ Rendezvous, which is held throughout the weekend at the upper campground area of the park.

The Buckskinners will set up a temporary village, similar to the ones mountain men lived in during the Gold Rush-era.

The Friends of the Melpine Country School also helps organize the event. That group oversees the preservation of the 1877 one-room school house located near the Grist Mill. That historical site is also open for tours during Heritage Day.

Returning activities include canoe rides, music by the Port City Pearl Chapter of Sweet Adelines International and model steam engines.

Tin-type photographer Haven Noble of Mount Pleasant will also return this year.

Hanifan said Noble, a member of the Friends of the Mill, restored his Civil War-era camera and taught himself how to use it.

Noble uses the camera to take photos and develops them as Heritage Day visitors watch the process.


What: Pine Creek Grist Mill Heritage Day

When: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 19

Admission: Free

Where: Wild Cat Den State Park , located between Muscatine and Montpelier on Iowa Highway 22.

Contact: 563-263-4808

Information: The annual Buckskinner’s Rendezvous will be held Friday-Sunday, Sept. 18-20, in the upper deck of Wild Cat Den State Park. A free shuttle service is available between the Pine Creek Grist Mill and the Rendezvous sites.

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