Grist for the Mill

Enjoy learning about the technology, history and importance of gristmills in the temporary exhibit, "Grist for the Mill."

People have used gristmills to grind grain (grist) for thousands of years, and at one time there were hundreds of gristmills in New Mexico. The technology of these mills evolved throughout the centuries, but the basic concept remained the same, with grain placed between two prepared stones and then ground to produce flour and meal that could be used for cooking.

The first recorded evidence of a gristmill in New Mexico occurs in a letter written in 1599 from Don Juan de Oñate to his family in Chihuahua, Mexico. Writing from the village of San Gabriel, he states “the wheat is growing well, and the molino (mill) is ready.”

This exhibit in the Museum’s North Corridor includes a portable gristmill from the Museum’s collection, a stone set from Mora, N.M., and two separate stones that were used in the Las Cruces area; one from the Lemon Mill in Mesilla, and the Schaublin Stone, which was on display for years next to the tall bank building in downtown Las Cruces. Visitors will see different flour samples, explore the technology of this process, and test their knowledge.

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