Renovation of mill sparks hope for town
Residents of Cedar Point Kansas eagerly await fix-up of town land-mark, in hopes of bringing life back to townby Madeline Deabler
Not many small, run-down towns get a second chance to become busy, bustling towns again.
The tiny city of Cedar Point in Chase County might have that chance.
O.H. Drinkwater founded Cedar Point and its mill in 1857.
Drinkwater later partnered up with P.P. Schriver, and they were the first people to grind flour in the mill, which was named after the pair for a while.
Since its beginnings, the mill changed from grinding wheat, corn and flour to grinding feed for cattle.
Dan Clothier, new owner of the Cedar Point Mill, said the sudden change in the manufacturing process put a lot of strain on the interior and was one of the reasons cracks started to appear at the base of the mill.
One of the 20 plus remaining Cedar Point residents, Rick Roberts, said he has lived in Cedar Point for practically his entire life and has witnessed the changing of the mill.
“It’s been such a part of our town’s history,” he said. “It’s been there forever, and I would know because back when I was in high school I used to work there, and I ran the scales and ground corn. It certainly has changed a lot since then.”
When Clothier bought the mill with his wife in 2015, he brought back the original name and, to help renovate the mill, started a nonprofit organization, Drinkwater and Schriver Incorporated.
Clothier said he first heard about the mill from William Least Heat-Moon’s book, “Prairie Erth.”
“It was by far one of the best books I have ever read over Kansas history,” he said. “He had a chapter in the book about the mill, so I headed over there as soon as I could.”
Now president and chairman of the board of directors of Drinkwater and Schriver Inc., Clothier said the company has grown exponentially in its fundraising with the support of local residents and tourists.
“We are still at the fundraising stage, so this summer we will do some grooming to make the property look nicer,” he said. “Most work will be behind the scenes, and it’ll take about a year of construction and $3 million to reach our goal, but we get tax breaks so we really need to raise $2.4 million.”
Instead of restoring the mill back to its original use, Clothier has other ideas in mind for the mill and said he thinks it’s just as important as saving the Flint Hills, if not more.
“I hope it becomes an education center and not just one where you learn about the Flint Hills or small towns like Cedar Point, but where you can learn about the Cottonwood River that flows through it and the many different elements of the environment around it,” he said.
As soon as Clothier’s non-profit organization reaches its $2.4 million goal, the building process will begin.
Residents from Cedar Point and surrounding cities want to help further the process.
Roberts has been working closely with Clothier in that process and said one of the first things he has planned is to clean out the inside of the mill.
Residents hope when the mill is finished with renovation, it will attract more visitors to Cedar Point.
Clothier even said he hopes with all the attention, other big companies buy the surrounding buildings and renovate them too, so life can be brought back to the town.
“There just aren’t that many mills around anymore,” Roberts said. “It’s one of those things that needs to get done in my lifetime because not only would it be a good tribute to Cedar Point, but it would also be a great tribute to the United States.”