Metamora Mill, Indiana
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Metamora Mill - History

by Brenda Krekeler abt 1989

Metamora Mill was established in 1847 by Jonathan Banes.  Initially, the mill was used to process cotton into thread.  The site was transformed into a  flour mill in 1856.  The original mill building was devastated by fire in 1883.  The brick exterior of Metamora Mill was completed in 1897.  The new mill was designed with the same footprint as designed by Jonathan Banes in 1847.

The Whitewater Canal was built from 1836 through 1865 and completed 76 miles.  Jonathan Banes established Metamora Mill on the Whitewater Canal (in 1847).   There were three other mills in the town of Metamora during the Canal Era.  The Whitewater Canal supplied Banes with water to power his waterwheel.  The Canal also allowed Banes the opportunity to transport his processed cotton into Lawrenceburg, Indiana and the Ohio River to sell at distant markets.  The Canal was completed in 1843 to Cincinnati, Ohio.   The canal system throughout, the then young United States, was doomed because of several important developments.  Initially the flooding consistently broke down the canal embankments requiring  tremendous repairs.  Consequently, finances were not available to support the continued damage found after each flood.  The eventual collapse of the canal system was the railroad.  Interestingly enough, the railroad bought the land from the tow paths that followed canals.  Here at Metamora Mill you will discover the railroad paralleling the historic canal. 

Metamora Mill changed the mill's power from a wooden water wheel to a Leffel Turbine in 1868.  The turbine had a 70” diameter and was installed in place of the water wheel.  The original antique Leffel Turbine remains outside of the mill as an historical landmark. 

In 1945 the Whitewater Canal Indiana State Historic Site created funding for the preservation of Metamora’s historical Whitewater Canal, the Locks on the canal, the Metamora Mill,  and the covered bridge aqueduct.  Indiana updated the canal and locks, set up the mill to grind corn in season, supports the canal boat and horses for visitors and a railroad steam engine for local trips.  They use the Mill Store to set up all of the dates and times for such events.  (765.647.6512) or

Today you will find Whitewater Canal Lock #25 adjacent to Metamora Mill.  The State wanted to have water power to run the drive shafts, belts & pulleys in the basement (lowest level) of the mill so they could grind corn with mill stones as authentically as possible.  In doing so, they set up a 12’ breastshot waterwheel inside Lock #25.  Please view the water wheel and the sluice gates by clicking here.


History Supplement 2014
Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites
by Gail Ginther
After the canal property was sold to a railroad company in the 1860's a separate entity was set up as an hydraulic power company which maintained the canal channel, locks and aqueducts to provide power to industries in Connersville and Brookville, Indiana. This was active until the 1930's and when the need for that power dwindled a group formed (Including Eli Lilly and other notable Indiana preservationists) that obtained the property rights to the canal corridor. This was then turned over to the state of Indiana when WW II diverted public energy and resources. Although the state managed the property from that time it wasn't until the 1970's that the Whitewater Canal State Historic Site was opened to the public as a museum and interpretive site. Some of us find it unfortunate that the state chose to go with trying to run the mill with a "picturesque" mill wheel rather than restoring the original turbine works. This is frequently broken and the grinding is done the majority of the time with electrical power. The historic site holdings include the Laurel feeder dam, the canal corridor from there to Brookville, the Grist Mill, and the Duck Creek covered bridge aqueduct (which was just named to the National Register). A non-profit organization is engaged in creating walking trails along the canal.
 The railroad was never a part of the Whitewater Canal State Historic Site. It is operated by the Whitewater Valley Railroad, as an operating railroad museum. This is a non-profit, all volunteer, membership organization that has never been state funded. The Whitewater Valley Railroad is based in Connersville, IN and runs excursions along the Whitewater Canal to the village of Metamora in season. While they did have steam engines in the early years, for various reasons they are now completely diesel powered. From time to time we do have visiting steam power, but this is usually not financially sustainable.
I know that much of the official material you've seen talks about Jonathan Banes, but he did have a partner at the time he established the Metamora mill, Andrew Murray.  Andrew also was involved with a mill at the next lock east, an area which was termed Millville on some early maps, which was later owned by his son-in-law Andrew Miller (appropriate name). Andrew Murray owned the hillside above town that has significant limestone outcroppings and there is physical evidence that stone was cut from that hill, and may have been used in the locks of that section of the canal. The Banes family remained in the Metamora area for a couple more generations while the Murrays moved on, and history was written by the survivors. 

Click Here to see Metamora Indiana Google Map

Click Here to View Metamora Mill Video

Metamora Mill, Metamora, Indiana
Main Page
Metamora Mill, Indiana. Main Page.
Mill Exterior
Metamora Mill. Indiana. Exterior Mill Building.
Metamora Mill, Indiana. History.
First Floor
Metamora Mill, Indiana. First Floor.
Power House
Metamora Mill, Indiana. Power House.
Wooden Water Wheel
Sluice Gate
Metamora Mill, Indiana.  Wooden Water Wheel, Sluice Gate.
Display Turbine, Drive Shafts & Iron Cogs
Metamora Mill, Indiana. Leffel Turbine, Drive Shafts, Iron Cogs.
Mill Stones
Metamora Mill, Indiana. Mill Stones.
Functioning Covered Bridge Aqueduct
Metamora Mill, Indiana. Covered Bridge Aquaduct.

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