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Ask The Answer Person: Do you know the history of this structure?

Posted: Wed, Jan 6, 2021 2:41 PM

John e-mails: "Do you know the history of this wall(?), which is located along the bike trail about 150 yards west of Wold Park?"

The Answer Person says: "As soon as we saw your e-mail, we knew we had to talk with Decorah Genealogy Association guru Midge Kjome.  It's her belief that this structure is left over from the Bernatz Ice Cave Mill.

The mill was built in 1874, using a mill sluice which went right through the area where this structure remains.  A newspaper clipping from that time says the mill was built by John Greer and James Hunter at a cost of $40,000.  The mill manufactured over 40,000 barrels of flour annually in those days.  The building itself was three stories tall, with a basement and a lean to.

The mill was burned to the ground when an April 11th, 1939 fire swept through the building.

That's the history of the mill and Midge Kjome's belief is that the structure you see in Wold Park today is all that remains from the Bernatz Ice Cave Mill.