Marker Monday: Blue Mills and Glenwood Park


Wood River Road between 2nd Ave & Blue Mill Rd, Kearney, Buffalo County, Nebraska

View this marker’s location 40.753826, -99.0853451

Marker Text

In 1881 Sylvester Bearss constructed Blue Mills just east of here on Wood River, so-named for a blue clay outcropping. A 30.5-inch Leffel turbine rated at 30 horsepower ran the mill with water impounded by an earth and brush dam. Fifty barrels of flour could be produced every 24 hours. When the mill was rebuilt after burning in 1892, a concrete dam and steam engine were installed. From about 1908 to 1920 Sylvester’s son Guy Bearss owned the mill, which featured “Star Patent” and “Snow Flake” brand flour. Bearss sold the mill to Warren Ewell a few months before it was again destroyed by fire on October 31, 1920. Ewell was convicted of arson; the mill was not rebuilt.

Until about 1910 the mill pond and environs was a popular recreation area operated by Charles Nelson and known as Glenwood Park. Ice harvested from the pond was stored in a huge ice house nearby for summertime use in Kearney. In 1944 the land where the mill once stood was acquired by the Lawrence and Violet Richter family.

Become a Member!

Our members make history happen.

Join Now

You May Also Enjoy

Marker Monday: Nebraska’s Big Rodeo

Marker Monday: Nebraska’s Big Rodeo

Making Rain

Making Rain

How pioneer trails shaped Omaha streets

How pioneer trails shaped Omaha streets

About History Nebraska
History Nebraska was founded in 1878 as the Nebraska State Historical Society by citizens who recognized Nebraska was going through great changes and they sought to record the stories of both indigenous and immigrant peoples. It was designated a state institution and began receiving funds from the legislature in 1883. Legislation in 1994 changed History Nebraska from a state institution to a state agency. The division is headed by Interim Director and CEO Jill Dolberg. They are assisted by an administrative staff responsible for financial and personnel functions, museum store services, security, and facilities maintenance for History Nebraska.
Explore Nebraska
Discover the real places and people of our past at these History Nebraska sites.

Upcoming Events

View our new and upcoming events to see how you can get involved.

Become a Member

The work we do to discover, preserve, and share Nebraska's history wouldn't be possible without the support of History Nebraska members.

History Nebraska Education

Learn more about the educational programs provided at our museums, sites, and online.

Education Digital Learning Resources

Find games, lists, and more to enhance your history education curriculum.

History Nebraska Programs

Learn more about the programs associated with History Nebraska.

Latest Hall of Fame Inductee

The Nebraska Hall of Fame was established in 1961 to officially recognize prominent Nebraskans.

Listen to our Podcast

Listen to the articles and authors published in the Nebraska History Magazine with our new Nebraska History Podcast!

Nebraska Collections

History Nebraska's mission is to collect, preserve, and open our shared history to all Nebraskans.

Our YouTube Video Collection

Get a closer look at Nebraska's history through your own eyes, with our extensive video collections.

Additional Research Resources

History Nebraska Research and Reference Services help connect you to the material we collect and preserve.

History Nebraska Services

Digital Resources

Find all of our digital resources, files, videos, and more, all in one easy-to-search page!

Support History Nebraska
Make a cash donation to help us acquire, preserve, and interpret Nebraska’s history. Gifts to History Nebraska help leave a legacy and may help your taxes, too! Support the work of History Nebraska by donating to the History Nebraska Foundation today.

Volunteers are the heroes of History Nebraska. So much history, so little time! Your work helps us share access to Nebraska’s stories at our museums and sites, the reference room, and online.