Phelps Mill

Phelps Mill

This is Phelps Mill, in Ottertail County, about fourteen miles northeast of Fergus Falls, Minnesota. It was originally known as Maine Roller Mills.

Phelps Mill, Minnesota

This mill began operations in 1889 and prospered as a flour mill in the age of hyrdopower that predated steam, gas, and electric mills. The plaque on-site says it closed for good in 1939. The sign shown below says 1931.

Ottertail County bought the site in 1965, and ten years later it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Phelps Mill, Minnesota

We drove up to the mill one weekend afternoon and I was surprised to see the mill standing with the door wide open, welcoming travelers who were passing through. There is also a really nice little riverside park here, perfect for a picnic.

Phelps Mill, Minnesota

 

This place has it’s own arts and crafts festival every year in July.

Phelps Mill, Minnesota

The restoration and development referenced in the sign above is largely credited to a campaign by local activist Geneva Tweten, referenced on the plaque below.

Phelps Mill, Minnesota

Phelps Mill, Minnesota

The mill is open to the public and pretty well-trafficked on a beautiful day like this. We saw twenty or more vehicles come through while we were there, which is pretty impressive considering the remoteness of the site. I also discovered my cellphone was reception was less-than-total.

Phelps Mill, Minnesota

Phelps Mill, Minnesota

The fall colors were just starting to show.

Phelps Mill, Minnesota

Phelps Mill, Minnesota

The Ottertail River is gorgeous from above.

Phelps Mill, Minnesota

This window was covered in flies, and for just a moment I had an Amityville flashback.

Phelps Mill, Minnesota

Phelps Mill, Minnesota

Phelps Mill, Minnesota

Phelps Mill, Minnesota

Photos by Troy Larson, copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC

5 thoughts on “Phelps Mill

  1. Now after viewing these photos, especially of the Otter Tail, I must go and see. All the more since I am a grandson of a Sha and probably related to half the county. The quiet beauty of the river matches that of many in the pacific northwest.

  2. When I was a child, before the restoration work began, we used to fish through holes and gaps in the floors. Sunfish and perch would gather beneath where part of the building extended over the river, and could be caught with simple line, hook and bait. It was probably dangerous, but we never asked and nobody ever told us that it was, so we didn’t worry about it.

    Great pics. Thanks for the few moments of nostalgia.

  3. As a boy scout back in the late 1950’s and early 60’s, we used to camp nearby. The mill was deserted of course, and we found a way to sneak in and explore. The very large northern pikes visible below the mill was a big factor in my interest in fishing — great memories! Their annual festival each summer is a wonderful opportunity to see the mill and this beautiful stretch of the river.

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