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Community Roots: Selections from the Local Legacies Project
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Millrace at Graue Mill and Museum
Millrace Photo courtesy Graue Mill and Museum

Graue Mill of Oak Brook

Designated an Illinois Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark, Graue Mill stands as a representative of an important technology era in the history of America and its mechanical engineering profession. Only a relatively few restored mills remain as reminders of the many hundreds that exploited the rich water resources and ingenuity of the early millwrights of this country, making possible its preeminent growth in agriculture and food processing -- despite the limited manpower available during its westward expansion. Graue Mill boasted such original engineering features as an undershot water-wheel, wooden gearing system, belt power transmission, bucket elevators and associated bolters and sifters.

Built and put into operation in 1852 by Frederick Graue, the mill became an important early economic unit and landmark in the community of Brush Hill now Oak Brook) and the surrounding countryside. By the summer of 1852 Graue had completed the brick mill, a building 45 feet by 28 feet in size, three stories high with a basement. He put in two runs of buhrs and, according to an early history, "has since run same mostly on custom grinding." The present partial restoration of the mill and its machinery in 1950 recreates some of the experience of these early mills -- the sounds of water wheel, creak of wooden gearing, rumbling of the buhrstones and the vibration of power. Run by the Graue family for three generations, the mill ground wheat, corn, oats and buckwheat and is still remembered vividly by older local residents of the Oak Brook area as a leading economic force in the community.

Project documentation comprises color photographs, postcards, several brochures, a booklet of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers on the mill, a newspaper article, two matted drawings of the mill, and a placemat handwoven at today's Old Graue Mill and Museum.

Originally submitted by: Henry J. Hyde, Representative (6th District).

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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