Graue Mill

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What do you do when the week has been hot and humid and suddenly you have a beautiful, breezy day before you?

You put aside the deadlines that are ticking and get in the car and head out for an adventure.

I had read about Graue Mill, but had not seen it and wasn’t sure what it was all about (other than a mill). Not super close, but not miles away, I went to discover a new place. (After all, I had done well with the Lizzadro Museum and the American Writers Museum – what could go wrong?)

The Graue Mill and Museum is in a park in Oak Brook. The mill is the only working water grist mill in the United States, in Illinois or maybe it’s one of only two in Illinois. Wait, the only working grist mill in the Chicago area. (Sorry, that’s what I’ve read in different places – so not sure what’s what  not being super up on working mills.)- However, their brochure does say that they are  listed on the Illinois HIstoric Mechanical Engineering Landmarks, the only gristmill so designated on a national or local level.  So I do know that.

The mill was opened in 1852 by Frederik Graue, using water from nearby Salt Creek. One of the draws of the museum is that you can see the milling process in the process of milling … however, I did not see that. I’m sure it’s because I was there on a weekday and not that many people were around.. I did get an explanation of how it works. And I could’ve bought a bag of cornmeal or flour, but wasn’t sure I’d use it right away, so I didn’t. But it’s kind of great that you can.

The tour starts on the third floor where a lady explained the making-yarn-from-wool process which was very detailed and very interesting. I’ve seen demonstrations like this many times before, but she’s been doing it since 1992 (or something) and knew a lot of unique, informative details that I hadn’t heard before.

On the second floor, another lady showed me the loom which again, I’ve seen before, but the detail was interesting.

The basement of the building was an Underground Railroad stop.  Hideaways would stay at the mill until it was safe, then they would leave by boat down the creek – a tributary on the Des Plaines River – and eventually make it to the Great Lakes and cross to safety in Canada.

Visting the mill costs a few dollars. The grounds are pretty and contain a bridge to get across the creek and to the other side of the road to Fullersburg Woods Nature Education Center. For somewhere to go on a beautiful afternoon – I would recommend it.

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The mill on a couldn’t-be-more-beautiful summer morning.

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Carding the wool

 

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The loom.
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Me – showing how they “ironed” ruffles into material.

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A very cool alphabet game.

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American Writer’s Museum

I heard about the American Writer’s Museum. Then I heard about it again and again. Then I saw it was voted one of the best 10 new museums in the WORLD! (The museum opened May of 2017.)

I made plans to go with a friend, but meanwhile the 16-year-old and I decided to see what it was all about.  She’s been reading a lot of classics lately and is somewhat interested in journalism (but not sure).  And we were looking for a 16th birthday trip – so we decided to check it out … and I plan to go back with my friend.

The museum is right on Michigan Avenue, and isn’t hard to find, but you kind of have to be looking for it. It’s located on the second floor of a several-story building and takes up just that one floor.

You get off the elevator and a friendly receptionist is there for you to pay the entrance fee. ($12.00  and $8.00 for students).

The entryway ceiling looks like this – (which might be a way to store the books in my house :))

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All the displays are interactive.

We started with a wall full of photographs that were taken by Art Shay – a photographer who took thousands of pictures – many of them of authors. On the opposite side of Shay’s exhibit were more photos – except these were covered in plexiglass which allowed visitors to write captions under the pictures. Mallory and I both had fun doing this.IMG_0079.jpg

 

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Mallory gets creative.

The next room had a timeline of authors – one side was more informational, but still with interactive displays. Opposite were descriptions of books. When you opened the display, there would be something inside which depicted the book or a song, or a video, etc.

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Timeline of American writing, starting back with Jefferson, Abigail Adams, Ben Franklin, etc.

 

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Another picture of the timeline.
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A display of Willa Cather’s characters – my dad always said she was the writer to read if I wanted to read great writing.

On the wall of doors – here’s a couple examples.

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The Gift of the Magi.

The video is behind the door of Fahrenheit 45l.

Then there was the wall of quotes from American literature —-

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Another fun exhibit was the favorite book interactive board – you chose your five favorite books by American authors. Meanwhile, the list on top scrolled through which ones were the favorites – changing by the minute as people voted. Next time I go, I’ll put in different books – that was difficult to do at a moment’s notice, but fun …

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And then Mallory and I got stuck … having so much fun. They have a table of old typewriters … ancient up to a computer (including an IBM selectric). You typed the beginning of a story and then the next person wrote the next part, etc.  Such a creative idea and interesting. They are planning on publishing some of the best stories. We went back several times to read what was happening to “our” stories.

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Mallory types her story.

After that were several interactive boards to create stories (think a touch screen of refrigerator magnets) and a touch screen of Mad Libs.

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Just thought this quote was funny.

We spent about two hours there, and decided that we both wanted to come back.

I definitely say this is a must for all my writer and reader friends.