Park location nixed for mill wheel, turbines
December 31. 2013 12:49PM
City officials pumped the breaks on permanently placing a flourmill wheel and turbines on city property until the 130-year-old artifacts can be repaired.
The Dell Rapids City Council in October authorized placing the mill wheel and turbines in the city park near the intersection of Washington Avenue and Third Street. However, City Administrator Justin Weiland said the location and the timetable for installation have been changed. Before the wheel or turbines can be permanently fixed to city property, Weiland said the condition of the turbines must be addressed.
“There was a fear that these things are going to just fall apart,” he said. “They’re not really being held together by anything.”
Councilor Mark Crisp agreed and said the steel turbines are in need of significant tack welding.
“They are pretty rough,” he said. “The one wheel really is about 15 pieces.”
Weiland said the poor condition of the turbines is a result of their age and having been moved a few times in the last century.
The mill wheel and turbines were used in Minnehaha County’s first flourmill in the late 1800s – the mill sat a few yards east of the dam – until it was torn down in 1904.
For decades, the mill wheel and turbines sat in the park near the north bank of the Big Sioux River. In the summer of 2012 they were moved to the old fire hall ahead of utility work along the river.
Knowing that building was going to be surplused and sold, the city planned to put the wheel and turbines in the city park near the basketball courts. But Weiland said the landscape there –a slight slope and a few trees would need to be dealt with – and flow of foot traffic during summer events like Quarry Days and Cootie Days made that location troublesome.
Last month, city workers installed the mill wheel at the west end of the city bike trail near Highway 115. Once repaired, the turbines will join the wheels at that location.