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September 26, 2015

Beckman Mill Ride

Host: Marty Densch

Beckman Mill Anniversary Drive
(Posted 9/30/2015)

by Marty Densch

A beautiful September day, some great roads, and a little history lesson all came together to make for an exciting drive as several BMC members embarked on the Beckman Mill Anniversary Drive.

Beckman Mill is a grist mill in Rock County, built in 1868, and over the course of almost a hundred years was owned by the Beckman family. In 1978 the property was sold to the county to expand park land it already owned along County Highway H. Unfortunately, the mill was in a pretty bad state of repair and the county was never going to have the resources it would take to repair it.

In 1990 a group called the Friends of Beckman Mill formed to find a way to restore the old structure and raise the funds to do it. Amazingly, they were able to accomplish both and managed to restore the mill to fully operational condition using its dedicated team of volunteers. They began giving tours in 1997 and in 2001 put the finishing touches on a new dam so that the mill could run on water power alone, just as it did in 1868.

The Friends of Beckman Mill is still around, still giving tours of the mill, and invited the Badgerland Miata Club to come help celebrate its 25th anniversary. Sounds like a good excuse for a drive to me!

We started out bright and early at 9:00am from a PDQ store on McKee Road in Fitchburg. From there we headed out into the countryside looking for the twisties. Conventional wisdom has it that all the roads south of Madison are straight as arrows but you can, in fact, find plenty of twists and turns—you just have to know where to look.

The route took us through Paoli and Albany before landing us in Brodhead. Ever hear of a place called Basco? Neither had we but we ended up finding it along Highway 69. Ever hear of Oakley? It's down there, just leave Brodhead on County F, turn onto County OK and keep going, you'll find it.

After winding our way down the narrow farm roads of Green and Rock counties we ended up at Beckman Mill Park where, as VIPs, we were allowed to park on the grounds and proceed to the mill for our own private tour.

Not everyone was able to stay for the Friends of Beckman Mill 25th anniversary ceremonies but those who did got to hear from a number of speakers including Wisconsin's Secretary of Tourism Stephanie Klett and Buzz Beckman, the last of the family to be born on the property (80 years ago!).

The drive officially ended at the park so each of us found our own way home. The consensus seems to be that it was a great day and a great drive and it's one we can do again if BMC members want.

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