The Mill House if Walls Could Talk

I was built at the turn of the century, the last one, not the current one.

The mill employed most of the town.

The Story Millhouse

Now I sit abandoned. Very recently my bashed out windows were boarded over with ply wood. Many of them shattered in the June hail storm of 2009. I’ve been reclaimed by small animals, birds and squatters.

I’ve been empty these past few years.

The last human who lived here was a fellow who wore coveralls every day. I am not sure what he did for a living. He kept cars here, sedans and 4 wheel drives. They gathered dust.

The man in coveralls kept the cars here for the men who were deployed in the wars that started after 9 / 11.

When he moved away, so did the cars.

Before that, I was known as the college house, named so by the lady who lives across the way.

This is a college town. MSU is heavy into agricultural studies. What better place for students to live than on the land that had once been an agricultural center point.

I am an historical building. That keeps me from being significantly altered and I can’t be torn down. Letting me fall apart is an okay thing to do.

I have a concrete sort of base that is crumbling from age. To restore me a crew would have to take me apart brick by brick, pour a new foundation and put new mortar between the bricks.
Here is a bit from a local Newspaper Article.

“There’s really no one looking after the place, no one taking care of it and it’s an extremely attractive target for vandals,” said Mark Hufstetler, an architectural historian and chairman of the Bozeman Historic Preservation Advisory Board.

The property dates back to 1882, when Nelson Story bought it and built a towering grain elevator he advertised as the largest in the state, according to local historian Phyllis Smith. After a fire destroyed the original mill, the Story family rebuilt the operation in 1901. The old mill is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

“It’s one of the most important things we have left of when agriculture was considered the most important industry in the Gallatin Valley,” Hufstetler said.

Now, this is a short history of Nelson Story..

Nelson Story, Sr. (April 4, 1838 – 1926) was a pioneer Montana entrepreneur, cattle rancher, miner and vigilante, who was a notable resident of Bozeman, Montana. He was best-known for his 1866 cattle drive from Texas with approximately 1000 head of Texas Longhorns to Montana along theBozeman Trail—the first major cattle drive from Texas into Montana. His business ventures in Bozeman were so successful that he became the town’s first millionaire. In 1893, he played a prominent role in the establishment of the Agricultural College of the State of Montana by donating land and facilities. He built the first Story Mansion on Main Street in Bozeman in 1880 and later built today’s Story Mansion at the corner of Willson and College for his son, T. Byron Story in 1910. In his later years, he became a prominent real estate developer in Los Angeles, California.

With a name like the Story Mill a place like this deserves preservation and telling. Even novelizing if it should come to that.


Story settled his family in Bozeman where he used his business sense and cattle fortune to engage in banking, mercantile and grain businesses. In 1882, along with Lester S. Willson, J.E. Martin, Broox Martin, and Edwin Lewis, Story helped capitalize one of the first banks in the county, the Gallatin Valley National Bank. The bank failed during the Panic of 1893 and never reopened. In 1882, Story opened the Story Flour Mill at the mouth of Bridger Creek. This mill produced up to 100 bushels a day and was a major source of flour for the U.S. Army at Fort Ellis and for the Crow Indian Reservation in southeastern Montana. His business activities made him Bozeman’s first millionaire.

Story donated 160 acres (65 ha) of land in 1893 for an agricultural college that became Montana State University. In 1876 he was accused, but not indicted, of defrauding the Crow Indians—and later claimed he had bribed the jury. He was called a “cattle king”, “captain of industry”, and a “robber baron”.
If Old Man Story came back from the other side and had a look at the mill house and the surrounding buildings he would see a tumble down grain elevator with the faded ghostly sign bearing a flour bag. It’s the wheat.
He would see televisions and tossed out couches between the ware house and silos and occasional camper parked in the shadows. He would see graffiti he couldn’t read nor make any since of broken windows overlooking a town that looks back sadly and wonders what went wrong.

Nothing much happens here except the smokers and drinkers who sneak into the shadows.

The family across the way has grown two children and grand babies come to play in the yard.

I don’t know what my fate will be. They can’t tear down an historic site but no one can afford to fix me up.

So, I’ll wait. I used to be the center of agriculture. Rail road tracks ran through me and the Bridger Creek babbled. The stock yards were busy. Now, I don’t even know who owns me.

The Mill House

By Sally

Sally Franklin Christie Blogger and Author of If I Should Die and Milk Carton People.


  1. Hi Sally-Interesting way you personified the mill. Are you using it as the setting in your next book? Sounds like a creepy place for a bunch of unsolved murders! Have a terrific St. Pat’s. I’m watching Children of the Corn on the Chill channel right now, probably why I’m in a creepy mood. Dina Rae

    1. What a good idea, Dina.

      I think it is a perfect place for maybe some torture or at least a body dump.

      Except, I took my poor family over to the property to take some photos..

      We were reading the graffiti and trying out the furniture dumped back behind it and a very nice policeman came to ask us what we were doing.

      I suppose a serial killer would be more discrete than three generations of Christies on a field trip.

      The property to the north of us has been abandoned also and I think three bodies have been discovered there. At least one suicide happened.

      But, nope, it isn’t in my current WIP.

      Thanks for the comment and the question.


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