The Benson Grist Mill (Tooele County Utah)
In 1854 LDS apostle Ezra Taft Benson arrived in Tooele Valley with orders from Church President Brigham Young to construct a Grist Mill that would serve new pioneer settlements in the area. His labor and commitment still stand proudly today in the Benson Grist Mill, one of America's truly remarkable historical structures.
Located in the northern Tooele Valley beside a spring-fed pond, the Benson Grist Mill was made of rock and wood by skilled pioneer artisans nearly 150 years ago. The mastery of their construction methods is easily seen inside the mill where wooden pegs and green leather were pounded into massive wooden beams. When the green leather dried, the pegs stayed in place like nails. This method was also used to build the Tabernacle at Temple Square in nearby Salt Lake City.
From 1854 to the 1940's, the Benson Grist Mill ground and processed flour, bran and cornmeal by the ton. Much of the mill's equipment, brought by ox teams from St. Louis and other cities during 1854, is still inside the mill and can be seen during tours. Although is carries the name Benson, the Lee and Rowberry Families of Tooele were also instrumental in the construction and operation of the Grist Mill. The Lee Brothers were hired by Benson to design and build it. In 1855 the mill site community became known a Richville and served as the Tooele County seat until 1861.
Other business operations opened besides, like a tannery and black smith shop. Richville quickly became a center of commerce for Tooele Valley, and the Benson Grist Mill was the centerpiece. Farmers and their families would arrive with their harvests and stay for the day picnicking or swimming, while the Grist Mill operator turned harvest in usable food. Mill ownership has changed hands several times over the years. Among the more prominent owners of the mill site was J. Rueben Clark, Jr., a Grantsville resident who served in the General Presidency of The LDS Church, and who also served a U.S. Ambassador to Mexico.
After the last bag of flour was ground in the 1940's, the Grist Mill lay silent for over 40 years, gradually falling into disrepair. In 1983 an ambitious committee of volunteers acquired the mill site property and began restoring the structure one piece at a time. The restored mill, which is widely recognized as one of the more intact pioneer era industrial buildings in Utah, captivates the interest of visitors from around the world.
Rapidly approaching its sesquicentennial, the Benson Grist Mill was hailed as the most significant structural landmark between Salt Lake City and Reno, Nev. when it was placed on the National Register of Historic Sites in 1972. Today, the past and the present converge at the mill, which is home to a variety of events and celebration steeped in the traditions of Utah's early settlers. One popular event is the annual Benson Grist Mill Pageant which features a musical tribute to the area's colorful history.
From Salt Lake City take Interstate 80 west to Exit 99 at Lake Point. Take Exit 99 and proceed south on SR-36 for four miles to the junction of SR-36 and Sr-138. Turn right onto SR-138 and proceed west fro one-half miles. Mill is on the right.
Benson Grist Mill
325 State Road 138
Stansbury Park, UT 84074
Phone: (435) 882-7678