On our way out to the Utah Firefighter’s Museum in Grantsville, we passed a sign for the Benson Grist Mill. We’d never heard of it, but the sign was brown, so it looked like an adventure to us! It turns out, that this is an LDS church history site with free admission and a “treasure hunt” for the kids. (Note: we’re not sure this was run by the church, but it was definitely “Church History” as the Benson in question was Ezra Taft Benson, grandfather of President Ezra Taft Benson.) The mill itself, built in 1854, is the key feature on the property. You can climb up 3 levels and go down 1 (there is at least 1 more down, but it was closed off) to see the inner working of the mill. There are many other buildings to visit including several cabins, a few barns, a blacksmith shop, and a candy store (try the huckleberry soda. It’s fabulous!).
Start by going to the Mill House to get directions (and a free guided tour, if you want one) and a treasure hunt guide for the kids. Then walk among the buildings and read the signs posted near the doors to answer the treasure hunt questions and learn about the history of the mill. A few other features of the property are a buckboard, a paddle wheel, and a pavilion that can be reserved for your party. There are also seasonal events planned throughout the year like a pumpkin walk and a Christmas party. We felt lucky to stumble across this site.
To get to the Mill, take I-80 west out of Salt Lake City. Take exit 99 for about 3 miles. Then turn right on UT-138. The mill shows up on your right. (There is a sign and a 4 story mill just off the road). This site is open April 30 – October 31 from 10 am – 6 pm, Thursday through Saturday.
Other sites located nearby are the Tooele Pioneer Museum and the Tooele DUP Museum, as well as the Tooele Valley Railroad Museum.
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Did you know that the Benson Grist Mill does the “Living Grist Mill Days” every Saturday from Memorial Day to Labor Day from 10am-2pm? Volunteers are dressed in period attire, kids can make pioneer crafts, do pioneer chores (card wool, and make candles…) and try out pioneer stilts and toys. Also, a real blacksmith is in the Bolinder blacksmith shop and you can attend a class in the schoolroom!