Northern Michigan in Focus: Elowsky Mill

These days, to get a loaf of bread or a pound of flour we simply go to the store and pick it up.

That wasn’t the way it was in the old days.

Corey Adkins takes you to a piece of history in Presque Isle County in this week’s Northern Michigan in Focus.

“Just imagine how many people did come here. I find that fascinating,” said Tammy Hincka with Hemlock Hills on Mill Pond.

Talk about bringing home the bread. Just south of Posen sits the Elowsky Mill. It was built in the late 1800s and basically had one purpose: to grind wheat and rye into flour.

People from a four-county area would do business there. And remember, this was before cars.

“You think that that’s just not a 40 minute drive from Alpena,” said Tammy.

Around seven people would work the mill and it was said that while the mill was cranking out that flour, the whole place would shake.

“You had to have a strong stomach working here, because when everything was moving and shaking it was just going. It was loud,” explained Tammy.

The mill became so popular, daylight became a problem.

All that milling created dust, and that dust is explosive, so they couldn’t use oil filled lanterns at night. Enter Thomas Edison. Yes, that Thomas Edison.

“As the story goes, Mr. Elowsky was pretty good friends and acquaintances with Jesse Besser from the Jesse Besser Museum in Alpena, and Mr. Besser was acquaintances with Thomas Edison,” explained Tammy.

Edison helped Mr. Elowsky run power there. The mill had the first electricity in the area.

“And that actually allowed them to run 24 hours a day, and then they were able to produce even more,” said Tammy.

The mill ran until the 1960s when it was no longer needed. That’s when they walked away.

“That’s what makes it pretty fascinating, because it’s fully intact as the same day the door shut,” explained Tammy.

Everything from inside the mill is still there, as it was all those years ago. It’s probably the closest to an original mill you’ll see in the whole country.

“I mean, it’s not running and functioning, but the main pieces are all here and it’s the same way as when they left in the 60s,” said Tammy.

After a few owners, time started to take the mill down. It was starting to lean into the river.  It wasn’t looking good until Tammy’s brother Mitchell stepped in a few years ago.

“One of the things that really drew him to buy the place was the history and if I could what could I do. Can I save that place?” explained Tammy.

In 2017 they raised one side of the structure 18 inches, another side 11 inches, and leveled it. They put up new wood on the sides and saved the old mill!

“It will be 150 years old next year, and now we’re hoping it will go another hundred years,” said Tammy.

The property is now called Hemlock Hills on Mill Pond. They use the grounds for weddings, proms and events.  It is private property but they do tours that you can set up through their website.

“Guests are just fascinated to walk through this and see a part of history,” said Tammy.


Categories: Northern Michigan In Focus