Meek's Grist Mill - Bonaparte, IA

National Historic Register - 1983

The first mill was built on this site in 1836 by William Meek. The mill burnt down in 1841 and the present building was constructed in 1878 alongside the Bonaparte dam.

During this part of the village's history, woolen, grist and lumber mills lined the river all powered by huge water wheels on the Des Moines. Settlers came to Bonaparte from as far as 100 miles to have their grain ground into flour, and Meek's Mill and other Bonaparte mills established a sound reputation for quality.

Wagons laden with grain and pulled by pack horses waited their turn to cross the Des Moines river on Meek's Ferry. Some customers waited in line for days to have their flour processed, and with their business Bonaparte's hotel, taverns and trading posts flourished.

Steamboats and paddlewheelers chugged up the river on their way to Des Moines, and the first Utah-bound Mormon settlers stopped in Bonaparte long enough to have their grist processed and to build several of our downtown buildings.The machine age has long since taken its toll on the little village, but the spirit, atmosphere and rich traditions of the past pervade the old mill now known as the Bonaparte Retreat yet today.