The Smoky Valley Roller Mill was built in 1898. Unlike a grist mill which uses stones, a roller mill uses a series of corrugated rollers to grind grain. This type of mill, know as "the grand daddy of the modern mill" became important in this area with the introduction of hard winter wheat in 1870s. Until 1955, the mill operated as a business, sending flour to places around the world.
The mill was originally water powered by turbines turning horizontally in the river. In 1940 the dam washed out. Fortunately, though, by the 1930s the owners of the mill had already converted it to electric power. (The housing for the turbines and the remains of the dam can be seen behind the mill. Two of the turbines can be seen in the courtyard beside the mill.)
Four to six people were needed to operate the mill. It processed 30-35 bushels of wheat per hour, which yielded 1260 to 1470 pounds of flour per hour.
Efforts to restore the mill to operating condition began in the 1960s and the restoration process was completed in 1981.
The building now houses a museum. The museum contains exhibits on Oscar Gunnarson (1884-1962), Anton Pearson (1892-1967), archaeology in Kansas, Native Americans, natural history, and the settlement and business history of the area.