Its picturesque setting on the Eel River in Wabash County makes Roann (pop. 472) a favorite of tourists and artists. With a tree-lined downtown, a restored covered bridge, and a historic mill, the small town could hardly be more quaint.
The Stockdale Mill presents a charming image of nineteenth-century Indiana. Built in 1855, the mill ground flour, wheat, and animal feed for local farmers who hauled their crops in wagons from surrounding fields. The landmark stood vacant for more 30 years until volunteers formed the Stockdale Mill Foundation to restore and reopen it as an operating mill and museum.
Experts estimate that more than 2,000 water-powered gristmills once operated in Indiana. Today, less than 20 remain standing, and only about a dozen -- Stockdale included -- are still grinding grain. You can buy fresh-ground cornmeal while you learn about the area’s milling history.
Roann Covered Bridge (Photo: Lee Lewellen)
Just upstream, the Roann Covered Bridge has come to symbolize the tiny town’s community pride. When an arson fire in 1990 left half of the bridge a charred skeleton, a full third of Roann’s citizens actively supported restoration. Within 21 months the Roann Covered Bridge stood intact once more.
Today the span is the centerpiece of the Roann Covered Bridge Festival. Each September, the four-day event draws thousands of people to town for tours, a parade, live entertainment, food, crafts, and more. You can learn more at www.roanncoveredbridgefestival.com.
Roann Covered Bridge
Stockdale Mill is open for tours and sells fresh-ground cornmeal 12 noon to 4 p.m. on Saturdays, May through October. For more information visit www.stockdalemill.org.
About Hidden Gems Indiana
Each week Indiana Landmarks uses insider knowledge to highlight historic places worth a visit, from the quirky to the sublime: small towns, neighborhoods, restaurants, shops, parks, cemeteries, scenic drives, museums -- you get the idea. Learn more about Indiana Landmarks at www.indianalandmarks.org.