My Thoughts About One of My Favorite Places--Northeastern Indiana's Amish Country

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Wolfe Field

Did you know that Shipshewana has an airport?

Wolfe Field is located a mile northwest of town, near Shipshewana Lake.  I would guess (but it’s only a guess) that it was named after Edward A. Wolfe, a wealthy and prominent local citizen of the early 1900s, whom I have written about before.

The website says that the airport is privately owned by the Shipshwana Air Association and permission must be granted to land there.  It was established in November 1960, and has no control tower.  The grass runway is 2,600 feet long and 200 feet wide.  Five single-engine airplanes are based there, with an average of 30 flights a week.  97% of these are local aviation, with only 3% being “transient aviation.”

As I suspected, the main users of the airport are the local crop dusters.  The information says, “Heavy agricultural aircraft activity May through October.”  I love seeing the colorful crop dusting planes flying around the countryside!

Wolfe Field also has an unofficial facebook page, which has a very cool picture of a plane coming in as a big storm approaches.

So now you know! 

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Bonneyville Mill

For many years I visited Amish Indiana as a tourist, before recently retiring here.  Once in a while a local would say, “Have you visited Bonneyville Mill?” and I thought, “Why would I visit a mill?!”  But last year I ended up there one Sunday afternoon, and now I’m a fan.

It’s not just a mill!  I had no idea…  Their brochure says there are 222 acres of “gently rolling hills, woodlands, marshes, and open meadows,” with five miles of hiking trails running through them.  There are picnic tables throughout, and five reservable shelters (each with picnic tables, water, grills, and restroom facilities).  Wow!

Bonneyville Mill is the oldest continuously operating grist mill in Indiana.  In its long history it has produced stone-ground flour and other products from all kinds of grains.  The original owner, Edward Bonney, hoped his mill would be the center of a thriving new city—but the railroads bypassed Bonneyville and the proposed canal was never built.  Edward sold the mill, went into the tavern business, got accused of counterfeiting, and fled town as an outlaw.  Oh, well…  “How the mighty have fallen!” as King David said.

Anyway...  Recently I was out there again for our annual church picnic, and I took some pictures.  A park employee explains how the mill works, and then ‘fires it up’ and grinds some grain.  There are helpful displays such as this one (below) to explain the process.

 Walking upstairs, the ‘works’ can be seen up close.  It’s amazing how many of the elements are made of wood, and yet they still hold their own after almost 200 years.  Edward Bonney’s men knew what they were doing!

Walking downstairs and outside, the actual turbines (water wheels), millrace, and dam can be seen.  Everything is well explained, and there are self-guided tour guides available for those who are interested in the mechanics of the thing.  It was actually quite progressive for its time, with its horizontal water wheel.

Here's a video of the mill in action:

The mill is open to the public, free of charge, on Wednesdays through Sundays from May through October, usually 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Get more information here.