- Zedler Mill Pavilion & Zedler Guest House
- Zedler Mill Historical Museum
Zedler Mill Museum & Park
History of Zedler Mill
The Zedler Mill Museum and Park is a tranquil place to experience the good life and a beautiful merging point for past and present cultures. The ambiance of the park highlights the gentle San Marcos River's eco-system and the historical rural life that was so much a part of Texas history.
It is hard to imagine life today without electricity and oil to power our lifestyle and industry, but not that long ago, the only power available was from water, steam, or animals. Water power has been used for more than 2,000 years to grind grain, pump water, and perform many other functions. It is not surprising, therefore, that early Texans harnessed the power of our rivers.
Several mills were built along the San Marcos River during the late 1800's. The Zedler Mill, which is the only remaining example, was established in 1874 as the Luling community's grist mill. A simple stone dam was built by Leonidas Hardeman and two brothers, John and James Merriweather - all three from Tennessee. They added a cotton gin to the site in 1883 and installed a water wheel at the dam to produce power for their machine shop. It was known as the Merriweather Mill at that time.
In 1885, Bob Innes, John Orchard, J.K. Walker, and a German immigrant mill expert named Fritz Zedler, purchased the site and mill equipment naming it the "Luling Water Power Company". Soon they added a lumber sawmill and Fritz Zedler replaced the existing stone dam with a wooden dam and penstock that could generate more power. Buying out his three partners within a few years, Fritz Zedler became sole owner in 1888 and invited his oldest son, Berthold, to be his partner. Not long after the acquisition, the entire three story facility caught fire in October 1888 and was totally destroyed. The citizens of Luling promised to hold the sale of their cotton crops for the Zedlers to rebuild. Devastated, but not giving up, the Zedler family rebuilt the mill factory and within seven weeks, it was operational.
Over three generations the Zedler family continued to improve the cotton-grist-lumber mill factory. Steam engines, a concrete dam, mule barns, and a blacksmith shop were added. In 1894, sons Herman and Carl Zedler installed a generator to supply the town of Luling with electric power and the mill remained the only power and water supplier for Luling until the 1920's. The grinding stones for the gristmill were replaced with more modern roller mills and the Zedlers added flour milling to the business along with animal sweet and chop feed products. In the 1950's they were still marketing a feed product called Henscratch and grinding fine cornmeal for Luling's dinner tables.
The unique eighty year history of Zedler Mill is a true cultural story of how the local settlers and he Zedler family adapted and profited, but after its closure in the late 1950's, Zedler Mill's fate remained in private hands and slowly fell into disrepair. Sadly relinquishing itself to modern ways of industry, all of the mill equipment and power apparatus (with the exception of the turbines), was sold for scrap. In 2002, the Luling Economic Development Corporation purchased the property for the City of Luling. The Zedler Mill Foundation, a non-profit foundation, was formed in 2007 for the purpose of restoring and developing the mill complex. Over the past several years, the Zedler Mill Foundation and the City has invested more than $1.5 million in improving and restoring the Mill buildings. The property is now a City Park and a proud Luling landmark for all to enjoy.
The Zedler Mill Foundation is always striving to improve the Museum. To donate historical items to the Museum or to make a financial donation to the Zedler Mill Foundation, contact: The Zedler Mill Foundation at 509 E. Crockett, Luling TX 78648.
The combined Zedler Mill complex and the City Park is located on 9.32 acres which includes the main mill factory and six other industrial site buildings that were required for the operation of the business throughout the years. These seven structures include the main mill factory, corn sheller building, corn crib building, mule barn, scale house, smokehouse, and office. Other points of interest in the Zedler Mill complex include the riverbank frontage, outdoor ampitheater with a stage, canoe dock, and an event Pavilion.
The Fritz Zedler House, built in 1900, is located across the street from the Mill complex and is available for daily or weekly rentals by calling 830-875-5515.
Movies have been filmed since the restoration at Zedler Mill as well as a television series Revolution.
Visitors are urged to take the "Dial and Discover" cell phone audio tour to learn all about the history of the Zedler Mill. Simply stop by and dial 585-935-7582 to take a step back in time.
A video history of Luling is also provided in the museum daily.
The Zedler Mill complex serves local citizens and visitors and helps preserve a way of life that is all too unfamiliar with the lifestyles of today. Stop by and learn about Luling's earliest citizens, their cultural heritage, hardships and endeavors.
With thousands of vehicles a day passing within a mile of Zedler Mill on Interstate 10, we hope to be a tranquil escape for travelers to stop and experience the good life...
Zedler Mill Museum and Park Tours
The City park and museum grounds are open to the public daily. The restored scale house serves as a hub for the complex and office for sales and marketing efforts. Visitors can walk the historic mill site, see the museum artifacts showing the ingenuity of the early Texans, read the historical interpretive panels throughout the complex, or use the audio cell phone tour the describes the early mill functions. While touring, visitors will learn the complexities of the rural lifestyle and the mechanical developments associated with the turn of the century industrial revolution.
The museum grounds are landscaped with walking paths, pocket butterfly gardens and native shrubs. The manicured grassy lawns are shaded by native pecan trees that enhance the natural beauty of the Mill's setting along the river. The river bank is home to a natural diverse population of wildlife. The park area is enhanced with picnic tables, ADA restroom facilities, and trash receptacles to be used by those who wish to bring their own picnic basket. Gas, food, and lodging are available in Luling - no camping or glass containers is allowed on the grounds. Pets must be on a leash and their litter removed.
The parking lot, pedestrian bridge, pavilion, and restrooms are all handicapped accessible. Other ADA adjustments in the museum and park are being pursued.
Luling is conveniently located in the heart of Texas at the crossroads of US 90 & 183, Texas 80 & 86, and Interstate 10, less than an hour from San Antonio and Austin.
Directions: From I-10, take Exit 628, head north, Laurel Street will be the first street past the river on the left. From downtown Luling, take Highway 80 S. (South Magnolia) to Laurel Street, which will be on the right.
Fees & Other Information
The Zedler Mill park and its parking are FREE to the public daily. Donations are appreciated when visiting the Zedler Mill Museum.
Group Tours: To reserve a guided group tour for the museum and site, call 512-227-1724 to schedule in advance.
Hours of Operation: The Zedler Mill Museum is open seven days a week during the day (normal hours are 8:00 am - 3:00 pm), but occasionally schedules may vary. The park follows the Luling public park hours that are posted by the City of Luling.
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