Steam-Powered Gristmill is New Again

A 1883 Missouri steam-powered gristmill back in business, thanks to a new boiler and steam boiler specialist Jeff Lund.

| March 2019

This approximately 12hp Southern engine at Wommack Mill was built in about 1900. It has an 8in x 8in bore and stroke. Photo by Ron McGinnis.

When Wommack Mill’s boiler gave up the ghost a couple of years ago, the 1883 Missouri mill’s unique status as one of only two operating steam-powered gristmills in the U.S. appeared to have ended.

Thankfully, Leon Beaty, board chairman of the Fair Grove Historical and Preservation Society, found out about Jeff Lund. Jeff, who operates Lund Machine Works in New Ulm, Minnesota, specializes in historical boiler replacement. Among his credits are two boilers for steam locomotives at Silver Dollar City, a theme park in Branson, 50 miles south of Fair Grove.

“I quit teaching high school music 15 years ago, and haven’t looked back,” Jeff says. “Working on steam boilers is very interesting."

Evan and Steven Barry help position the new boiler at Wommack Mill, while Carl Buckner and Leon Beaty give directions to Franklin Hodges in his skid loader. Photo by Ron McGinnis.

In one recent project, he restored the boiler for an extremely rare admiral’s boat. Steam Cutter #873 NJ1, a 40-foot launch, was assigned to the battleship USS New Jersey BB 16 when it was commissioned in 1907. After a nine-year restoration, the small boat will be displayed in the Annapolis Maritime Museum. It is the only one of its kind known to exist.   


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