Wood River Road between 2nd Ave & Blue Mill Rd, Kearney, Buffalo County, Nebraska
View this marker’s location 40.753826, -99.0853451
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.