Wednesday, September 4, 2019

The Red Mill: A Slice of the Past & A Big Slice of Heaven on Earth

 By Pamela S. Meyers

Covered Bridge at the Red Mill in Waupaca WI

My native state of Wisconsin has so many unique and beautiful areas for people to visit besides my hometown of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. If you are a regular reader of my blogs here you know how I love to share the rich history of my home area, but there really are a lot of other special areas in Wisconsin and one of them is located just south of Waupaca, Wisconsin’s southern city limits in a small area called Little Hope. At one time I chose to set a contemporary story in Little Hope, but other publishing opportunities presented themselves and the story was sidetracked but not forgotten. I visited Waupaca and the Red Mill about ten years ago for writing research and fell in love with the history and beauty of the area.

When I visited to do writing research, I had no idea at the time that a very beautiful and unique spot in Little Hope was something called the Red Mill. A couple from Milwaukee purchased the old grist mill at an auction and had plans to use it to sell furniture. They did sell antique furniture there, but they also converted the building and the land it sits on into a special area designed as a place to step out of the present and into the serene beauty of God’s creation for prayer and reflection. 
Path to the Covered Bridge

Included in the landscaping was a covered bridge and a miniature chapel with only room enough for about four or five rows of short pews. The highlight of the chapel is the cross-shaped window above the small altar that looks out on a forest. They also blazed a trail through that forest called a Prayer Path and, as you walk along, you encounter signs with scripture on them to possibly incorporate into your prayer walk. After about a ten minute walk if you don’t stop along the way, the trail circles back to the chapel area. There are park benches situated next to the river and you can sit and look across the river at the mill, while listening to the birds and the bubbling water as it flows by. It's easy to forget you are in current times, not far from a bustling small Wisconsin town.

HHHistory Contributor, Erica Vetsch recently wrote about a grist mill in Minnesota that explains in-depth what a grist mill was and how it worked. You can read about it here.

Mini Chapel which is now painted white

Interior of chapel

Entrance to Pathway of Prayer

The Red Mill, built in 1855, was originally called the Crystal River Mill. It had two metal mills, one used for wheat flour, cornmeal flour, and graham flour and the other for livestock feed, which I presume was done with field corn. It served the locals for more than 100 years before it sold in auction in 1959.
The wheel in the picture was one the new owners built using the style of wheels used in 1855. 
Photo Source: Red Mill Facebook Page;
These are statues, not real children :-)

I’m going to let the photos I took on my visit to the Red Mill share the special beauty of this little spot I like to call a slice of the past and a big slice of heaven on earth. As I spent time sitting on the banks of the Crystal river (and the water is really crystal clear), I looked at the wheel on the old mill and wondered about those people who worked the mill and what their lives were like back then. Maybe someday I’ll write a story set back in that time, but right now I’m hoping to revive the story I started ten years ago. 

If you go to the Red Mill's Facebook page, you can see dozens of pictures of the landscaping and how it's been repainted since these pictures were taken by me. The new owners have also rehabbed the gift shop and included a cafe that sells light lunches and beverages along with sweets. All great improvements. I highly encourage you to check out their facebook page here . I know if you are able, you will be adding a visit to the Red Mill to your bucket list! Just note that some of the things pictured may have been refreshed since I visited.

Have you visited the Red Mill? Please share in the comments of your memories of your visit.

Resources: Red Mill Facebook Page; Mill
All photos, unless designated differently, are personal photos taken by Pamela S. Meyers.

Pamela has written most of her life, beginning with her first diary at age eight. Her novels include Surprised by Love in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin and Second Chance Love. Safe Refuge and Shelter Bay, Books 1 & 2 in her Newport of the West series, are set in her hometown of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. She lives in northeastern Illinois with her two rescue cats.


  1. Wow! This spot sounds lovely! How I'd love to visit there!

  2. OH, my! My parents had a cottage in Mt.Morris. My mother was born in the wrong century---and we would trek up to the Red Mill maybe 4 times a year, and I also remember canoeing down the Crystal River. My home is filled with items purchased at the Red Mill, and my boys still remember the big jars of candy sticks. They have done a great job of keeping it up! How fun that it is still there!

    1. Isn't it great that someone took it over and spiffed it up? The son was in ill health when I was there ten years ago and there was talk about it going away if he couldn't find a buyer,

  3. I love reading about old places like this. That little chapel is beautiful. How I would love to have visited there. Wisconsin is one state I haven't truly visited, and it looks like a beautiful state. Thanks for sharing your state with us, Pam.

    1. Oh, Martha, I wish you were closer. I'd love to take you up there. Thanks for your comment.