The Prairie Mills

Golden, Illinois

The Restoration

Nothing happened to the Prairie Mill until 1986 when the town of Benson, IL wanted to buy it.  Golden citizens quickly raised the funds to purchase the mill, and established the Golden Historical Society to restore and operate the windmill.


In 1995 an assessment by the Society for the Preservation of Old Mills provided the momentum for a major fundraising effort.  The assessment indicated that although there were serious structural problems, there were few restorable windmills remaining that had its original mechanism nearly untouched since it last milled flour in the 1930s.  To date, over $600,000 has gone into the restoration.


Major restoration began in 1998.  The society restored the windmill to operation and repaired the West wing.  The East wing was completed in 2003 and the North wing should be complete in 2004.

Pouring of the mill tower foundation.  The original limestone foundation had dissolved, allowing water to soak into and rot the tower frame.

Preparing a wooden member to create a “scarf joint.”  These joints are used throughout the tower frame to extend the length of the timber or to replace the rotted part of one of the original timbers.

Two sails before installation on the wind shaft.

“Dressing” one of the three “bedstones.”  Dressing enhances the stone’s grinding power and improves the quality of the flour.  It was a normal maintenance procedure because the millstones would wear from the grinding process.

The wind shaft and brake wheel.  The original cap could not be restored, requiring construction of a new cap.  The wooden mechanism in the cap were restored, requiring only replacement of the wooden cogs.

Jacking the mill tower.  Eight specially built jacks supported the mill tower during restoration of the tower frame.  Note that the cap isn’t on the tower.

Removing the cap from the mill tower.