Old Mill Park, Nephi's state centennial project, was dedicated by Gov. Mike Leavitt recently.
The park is built on the south bank of Salt Creek in the downtown area on the east side of Main Street and features an old mill wheel used in pioneer times."The large mill wheel was used by Nephi's pioneers to mill the grain they harvested," said Mayor Robert Steele. "The wheel was a gift to Nephi city from the Juab County Company of the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers."
Assistance in preserving the wheel was provided by James L. Painter, and the strip of creek property where the wheel is now located was donated by the family of P.N. Anderson, Steele said.
Leavitt said that when he was about 12, his mother asked him to plant some trees for her. He said he was in a hurry to go to a ball game.
Leavitt said he went into the kitchen and his mother told him she was not satisfied with the job he had done. "She said the trees would die because they were not planted deeply enough and she wanted them planted in a clump because she wanted them to grow together."
Leavitt returned to the outdoors and dug deeper holes and put the trees closer together. However, he still had not done the job quite right.
"When I went back in the kit-chen, my mother said I still had not planted the trees close enough," said Leavitt. "She told me that someday my children would be climbing those trees. If one of them grows to the north, I want you to remember why, she said."
Not long ago he was at the home, his children were climbing the trees, and one was growing to the north. "We have to do things right at very important moments," he said.
The Old Mill Park is one of those things that have been done right at a very important moment, he said.
Steele also paid tribute to Philip Baker, Nephi City Parks and Cemeteries superintendent, who, with the help of many city employees and many volunteers and contributors, made the park possible. "He has spent many, many sleepless nights getting the park ready for dedication," said Steele.
Randy McKnight, city administrator, said the park project cost approximately $50,000 for materials. "That does not include labor," he said. "Quite a bit of the labor was donated. The cost of materials came from the city budget and from donations and contributions."
Baker said that in addition to the old mill wheel, the park will feature the old fire station bell that was located behind the old city hall and a water wheel from the John Wilkey property.
The park has benches, picnic tables and a white picket fence. City parks crews have planted trees and laid sod. They have also seeded wild flowers in raised beds.
The old mill wheel was located on the north side of the Juab County Mill and Elevator Company, at the old mill site on 100 South between 100 and 200 East. The mill was built by John Hoile in 1859 and was sold to John Hague in 1870. He died in 1900 and the Juab County Mill and Elevator Co. was purchased by a group of Nephi and Fountain Green men in 1907.
Nephi ordered the demolition of the old mill when it became a safety hazard. The mill wheel was saved by James Painter, who took it to his property. He later donated the wheel to the county DUP.
The brick from the old mill were salvaged and the Nephi Lions Club cleaned much of the brick. The Nephi Fine Arts Center was built on the old mill location in 1972 using the salvaged brick.