Tunnel Mill was built in 1824 by Ebenezer Baldwin. The mill is considered as "an extraordinary engineering feet for is time". In a unique near oxbow of the Muscatatuck River a 40 foot wide 200 foot long tunnel was built through the limestone ridge that separates two sections of the same river. A dam was constructed to channel the river water into the tunnel. The tunnel had a large channel carved in its center that lead the water to a large turbine wheel.
Vernon residents traveled to the mill along a road built on the ridge above the tunnel. Baldwin built a large log dwelling on the ridge where farmers would wait for their grain to be milled. The mill was quite profitable in its beginnings and thrived even greater when the railroad came to Vernon. Tunnel Mill was well known throughout southern Indiana.
Eventually the mill had to drop its unique powering structure and adopted steam to power its operation. Later in the century the mill was abandoned as new technologies where created and employed. Much of the mill was destroyed in a large flood in 1897.
The property of the tunnel mill was acquired by Powell Crosley, Jr. a wealthy Cincinnati businessman. Crosley eventually owned over 3000 acres of rich forest and river land which he enjoyed for its hunting opportunities. This land was transferred over to the state in 1958 and today is managed as the Crosley State Fish and Wildlife Area.
The Tunnel and its Channel Full and Flowing
Today the Tunnel Mill is a peaceful reminder of our pioneer heritage. The surrounding hills and river nestle this beautiful historic spot. Tunnel Mill can be accessed by a short hike from the Baldwin Cemetery. The hike is less then five minutes over level terrain.
There is currently a project being proposed and studied to connect the Tunnel Mill to Vernon via the old Baldwin ridge trail and to the Vinegar Mill at the Muscatatuck Park. If you have any interest in this project then please contact us!