No run of the ‘mill’ park

Posted on Jul 02 2019 in General, Travel
The Cerulean Warbler is just one wildlife species that enjoys Spring Mill State Park’s lush flora.
Photo by Marty Jones.


Spring Mill State Park boasts the usual activities, campsites and trails (eight to be exact, ranging from 1/3 to 2½ miles). But most parks don’t serve food using cornmeal made from an active, 202-year-old mill. And you’d be hard-pressed to find NASA spacecraft near nature elsewhere.

On 1,358 acres about 3 miles from Mitchell, Ind., Spring Mill State Park offers plentiful activities for year-round visitors. Most attractions date back to the Civilian Conservation Corps, a 1930s public work relief program, and the land is notable for large quantities of limestone.

From that limestone formed several cave systems, including Twin Caves — through which boat tours operate daily through mid-July and on weekends from mid-August to mid-October. For $3, riders can enjoy a 500-foot exploration and maybe observe rare cave-dwelling animals.

The Pioneer Village offers 20 buildings to explore and heritage interpreters of life circa 1863. It’s also the site of the three-story limestone gristmill that makes the cornmeal. (Eager to try some? Scan the menu at the Spring Mill Inn’s Millstone Dining Room.) The park’s Nature Center features displays of six native snakes, bird-watching stations, children’s activities and more.

No matter the season, the Grissom Memorial honors the legacy of Virgil “Gus” Grissom. A Mitchell native, Grissom was one of America’s first astronauts (in the Mercury Seven) and became the second American in space. Alongside history of Grissom’s achievements, you can see the “Molly Brown,” in which Grissom took his final spaceflight on the Gemini 3 mission.

A private space-artifact collection display on July 20 — the moon landing’s 50th anniversary — in honor of Grissom is among several events at Spring Mill State Park this summer, including:

• Christmas in July (July 26-28)
• Vintage Camper Rally (Aug. 16-18)
• Fiber Arts Weekend (Aug. 31-Sept. 2)

NICK ROGERS is a freelance writer and communications manager for Purdue Agricultural Communications.

If you go

Spring Mill State Park
3333 State Road 60 E., Mitchell, IN