Scenic USA - Kansas

Old Oxford Mill

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Old Oxford Mill - Oxford, Kansas

Photos by Ben Prepelka
Ben's Panoramio Gallery

     Pushed steadily westward, the final Treaty of 1870 forced the Osage Indians to give up their little corner of Napawalla and thousands of acres surrounding the confluence of the Ninnescah and Arkansas rivers. By 1871, the Oxford Town and Emigration Company had laid out the city and began selling off parcels to the first settlers to cross the Arkansas River. Hoping an elite name would influence this area's new pioneers, the Oxford title was bestowed upon the town. With Oxford, England, as a fine example, the town's folk set their sights on all levels of education, building a large school campus. By the 1930s, Oxford enjoyed service of three railways, more hope with a discovery of oil, and fine products from the Oxford Mill.
     Mill history began with construction in 1874. As with most stream-side mills, supporting walls were built of limestone block to stand up to area flooding. A hand dug millrace, paralleling the Arkansas River for three miles, supplied power to the four story mill. After the mill changed ownership a few times, Charles Champeny took over the mill in 1918. A highly successful business by the Depression Era, the mill operation required more space and was moved up from the stream to the street level.
     The Champeny family, staying on for three generations, finally ceased Oxford Mill Stream View mill operations in 1997. Although the old mill was used to generate power to the new mill building, years of neglect and deteriorating elements took their tool. By 1988, third generation miller Wallace Champeny and friend Hal Ross stepped in to save the old mill. The restoration was completed in 2000, and now the Oxford Mill is part of the local school's entrepreneurship program. Donating countless hours in clean up and trail blazing, school students also have a chance to manage the mill restaurant. Currently under the trust of Oxford school system, the mill is rented for special occasions, and students continue to serve Sunday lunch from 11am to 2pm.

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