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article number 80
article date 11-24-2011
copyright 2011 by Author else SaltOfAmerica
Mansfield Indiana Covered Bridge Festival, Old Water Mill plus ‘Not a Flea Market’.
by Stu Moment

I told a person that I was going to Mansfield, Indiana for their celebration of the Park County Covered Bridge Festival. He mentioned that he heard good things about the flea market. When I got to Mansfield, I was told NOT to call it a flea market. OK … I don’t know if I’d like a flea market anyway. I don’t shop for fun and I would not spend a penny this weekend.

Our host chose the last weekend of the October festival hoping for smaller crowds. I personally don’t mind crowds if I program myself to relax and enjoy people. There were still many people but we were able to park close to the action. This came in handy to unload the many things I bought, halfway through our visit. There are many good deals on everyday things plus very interesting arts and craft items, I couldn’t help but part with $25 … a little at a time.

Besides people, food and the “not a flea market”, I was captivated by the old water mill and its historical presentation.

I’ll start this article with the festival, then I’ll show the Indiana Department of Natural Resources presentation of the Mansfield Roller Mill. It’s very informing.

Festival: Food and Shopping

Still early in the morning, the roads are not crowded. Fellow on the right is distracted by a chocolate vendor. His wife says “Later. Let’s get breakfast instead.”
Lots of vendors for breakfast or lunch. It’s still a bit nippy outside so hot cocoa will be ordered with breakfast.
Decent prices. I brought my own food and drink but thinking about the giant tenderloin almost made me give in. Next year I’ll starve for a couple of days before the festival, and then I’ll pig out.
The Mansfield covered bridge is marked with date of 1867. I have a feeling that it’s been rebuilt since … a few times.
You will cross the bridge to access lots of shopping on the east side of Raccoon Creek. According to Google Maps, this bridge is really in service … used by cars as part of County Road 145.
On your way back across the covered bridge, you will spot the mill.

The Mansfield Roller Mill

The Mansfield Roller Mill had an exhibit of both the mill equipment and “story boards” which explained the history and function of the mill. The much of the text in section is from the story boards.

According so online sources, the mill was built in 1820 but one story boards relate the following: The Mansfield Roller Mill represents the mid-1800s period when Indiana shifted from being the frontier to becoming a successful participant in the national economy. The Mansfield Roller Mill uses automated technology. The mill process is powered almost entirely by the water-powered turbines. Not only are the roller mills run by the turbine but also the series of spouts and elevators that moved the grain. Almost no manual labor was needed.

Kids will leave with a sample of milled grains.

Another story board relates: A late 1800s mill needed to be located near water to power the mill, near a road so that farmers could bring in their grain and near a railroad so that finished flour could be transported to markets. For many years, railroad tracks ran directly in front of the mill. Almost all roller mills were near to railroad tracks for easy transportation of surplus flour to other markets.

Like many railroad spur routes, the Mansfield Railroad no longer exists.

I believe that everybody will enjoy visiting Mansfield during the Covered Bridge Festival. Also, the trip to Mansfield is scenic. See the article, “Scenic Western Indiana, US Route 36” for pictures of the trip.

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