Our Historical Markers across Nebraska highlight fascinating moments and places in our state’s past.
Today, we’re focusing on what is probably the oldest functioning water-powered mill in the state, used commercially until 1968 and now as a museum.
Mill St, Champion, Chase County, Nebraska
Champion, on the Frenchman River, is the site of probably the oldest functioning water-powered mill in Nebraska. Preliminary construction on the mill was begun in the fall of 1886. The work was completed and the mill placed in operation by late 1888. The original mill burned in the early 1890’s, but was soon rebuilt. It has remained in use since that time. The construction of flour mills reflected Chase County’s transition from ranching to farming. Dominated by ranching in its early years, the county saw a heavy influx of farmers after 1885. The construction of mills symbolized the new dominance of farming.
Chase County was formally organized in 1886. Imperial remained the county seat through three elections, although Champion sought support because of its advantageous location on the Frenchman River. Chase County was named for Champion S. Chase, Nebraska’s first Attorney-General. Originally known as Hamilton, the town of Champion was renamed in honor of the same Champion S. Chase in 1887.