The Excelsior Flour Mill Was Crucial to Provo’s Early Settlers.
Early Provo’s grist mills ranked among the most important businesses in town. Farmers used wheat for money, and grist mills turned this form of money into something that could be eaten – flour.
In 1876, George Beebe (the father of Angus Beebe), who moved to Provo from Iowa, build the Excelsior, one of the city’s longest-lasting mills, on the northwest corner of the intersection of 500 North and 200 West. Beebe found and excellent market for his flour in Provo, Salt Lake City and Utah’s mining towns.
Water from the old mill race running down 200 West powered the new and improved machinery of the mill almost all year long. Sometimes for several months in the summer, the mill was forced to shut down because farmers used most of the water in the mill race.
In 1879, Beebe leased the Excelsior to John W. Hoover, who eventually bought it. From this tome on, townspeople frequently referred to the business as Hoover’s Mill. After John Hoover suffered a stroke in 1898, four of his sons operated the mill. They continually updated the machinery and successfully produced several types of flour and animal feed.
More than a half century of milling history came to an end early on the morning of February 11, 1930. About midnight, people loving near the mill detected an odor that smelled like burning rags. A fire was soon detected, which likely started from spontaneous combustion.
Although the entire Provo Fire Department fought the blaze with size hoses and chemicals, the frame building burned like tinder, and the flames entirely consumed it. Insurance only partially covered the loss, and the Hoovers did not rebuild the mill.