‘Down by the Feed Mill’ explores the icon of Rural America


Looking for a new book? “Down by the Feed Mill: The Past and Present of America’s Feed Mills and Grain Elevators” is a must see.

Authored by David Hanks, “Down by the Feed Mill” features stunning images of mills — ranging from present-day bustling businesses to abandoned old structures — within the communities they anchor.

Released by Schiffer Publishing, the book contains more than 240 fascinating photos that bring to light the importance of feed mills to American townspeople, economies, and heritage. This wealth of contemporary new photos, together with some vintage images from museum collections, give us a visual record of a changing, and substantially changing, American institution.

Covering a time frame of more than 150 years, the book’s illuminating text explains what feed mills and grain elevators do, how they work, the role they have played in the American agricultural economy, and the relationship of these businesses to their farmer customers.

By focusing on three mills in depth we learn the changing technological, and economic conditions that shaped, and sometimes destroyed, mills. These evocative photos capture mills in the southern half of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, chosen to be representative of the U.S. mills as a whole in terms of their variety, historic evolution, and characteristics.

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