Grist Mill History

Thorp Grist Mill history includes the operational years of 1883 to 1946, when it served the pioneers of Washington State’s Kittitas County. One of the most essential places in the area, the mill was where people brought their wheat, oats, and barley, discussed daily life, and planned for the future.

The four-story building had a 75-barrel daily capacity and produced flour and livestock feed. Originally a stone bur mill, the facility was later converted to a roller mill at the end of the 19th Century. The mill still retains its original rollers, and plans are underway to develop many of these machines back to working order. An interpretive center in the gristmill provides information about the mill, pioneering families, local history, and photographs.

The mill was powered by water from a diversion dam on the Yakima River that was used to move a lateral turbine system. A second turbine on the site, used to power the adjacent lumber mill, was later employed to provide the first electrical power to the area. In 1989, the Thorp Mill Town Historical Preservation Society restored the mill’s turbine, making it once again operational.

Also part of the Thorp Mill’s history is the former Northern Pacific ice pond, a 23-acre site that once provided refrigeration for the railroad as well as ice for all local residents. The ice pond area still retains evidence of its past, but has now been developed into a recreational park.

Thorp Mill Ice PondThe Thorp Mill ice pond operated by Northern Pacific Railroad. Courtesy of Central Washington University Archives.

For more information about the mill’s history and operations, visit the site’s Timeline and the Functional Diagram.