Up until recently, Morningstar Mill has best been known to me as the place to park to get to Decew Falls. Sure, we have stopped in and checked out the mill quickly before or after our hike, and found it quite adorable, but I had no idea that they still operated the mill. And I certainly didn’t know that it was open to the public and that you could receive your very own fresh milled flour for a small donation to the mill.
Most people who come to Niagara Falls come for, well, the Falls. And I understand why. I love to ride my bike down during the off season when the crowds have gone home. It’s beautiful. But the problem with coming for the Falls is getting trapped in the tourist areas and never venturing out to see what the Niagara region truly has to offer. Niagara is a great place to visit by car: an original honeymoon road trip destination. And a car gives you the freedom to escape and appreciate the scenery. Places like Morningstar Mill.
Milling was posted to start at 11am, and we arrived just after, not certain what to expect or how long it would last. The parking lot was full but many were parking on the street- just be sure to look for no parking signs! The parking lot is on the small side so it’s always good to go early or expect to walk — even when it’s not milling day.
The grist mill was rebuilt in 1872 and houses all of its original machinery. A fun fact that we learned while touring is that while the original sifter is up in the attic on display, they had to encase a new one (which looks to be much like the original, just that it’s encased) because flour dust is explosive! If you start on the main floor, you can see the grain coming down the shoot from the attic before you head downstairs to watch it come out of the sifter.
It was especially neat to see the turbine turning in the attached shed. The mill still uses the moving water to grind the flour, which my kiddo found fascinating.
On milling days the home of the Morningstar family is also open to tour. The house was completely restored, the only thing that was changed during restoration were the walls to accommodate the electrical work and sprinkler system. K and I had fun glimpsing historic versions of modern items.
The blacksmith shop was also open. I have to admit we spent the least amount of time there…. I think K was afraid he would get put to work making nails!
Before we left we had to come home with some freshly milled flour and bran! We were given a brochure with a few of their recipes to try out with our flour. K helped me double the bran muffin recipe and decided to add peaches, blueberries, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg to it while subbing half the sugar for maple syrup – talk about delicious! We made over 3 dozen, enough to share and freeze for another day.
The next milling date is September 23, 2017. Be sure to check their Facebook page as it is dependent on water levels. I suggest bringing cash so that you can leave a donation; $4 a bag of flour is their suggested donation.