Drayton resident Floyd Schieck has spent the past 15 years creating a backyard wonderland of miniature buildings, including a water-powered grist mill that aptly displays his incredible penchant for detail.
Visitors to the yard find a series of tiny buildings ranging from a children’s playhouse, built to amuse the grandchildren of Schieck and his wife Donna, to a scaled down version of the former train station in Drayton and a covered walking bridge.
Schieck began by constructing the first building as a playhouse for his grandchildren back in the mid-1990s.
“The little people really enjoy it,” he notes.
Over the years, he added a church, complete with pews occupied by teddy bears, the train station and finally, the piece de résistance, his grist mill.
The train station was based on what photos Schieck could find of the exterior, while the interior was visualized through research and imagination. While he didn’t have any interior photos to work with, he created a period-style ticket wicket in a largely unfurnished space.
“What else would there be?” he explains.
The grist mill, which is powered by water from a hose and pipe set-up, features a working water-wheel, connected to a series of gears which turn a cement stone designed to replicate the mills of old. The mill won’t actually grind, as Schieck used only the lower stone for his design, but it gives visitors a clear picture of how the milling process worked in days gone by. The structure includes a lower level gearbox, a second floor where the milling stone is located and stairs to an attic area that Schieck found was included in the full-size grist mills he studied as models.
Working without plans or blueprints, Schieck creates his miniatures to appear as authentic as possible, without worrying too much about scale. It all has to fit on his property after all.
In addition to the backyard models, Schieck has also created several tabletop models of historic barns in the region. In addition to demonstrating pioneer barn construction methods, some models also include working examples of pioneer ingenuity, in the form of working hay unloading systems.
While built primarily for the Schieck family’s enjoyment, Floyd loves to display his miniatures to groups and visitors.
“The enjoyment for me is having people come, so that you can show them the history. Sometimes, we take these things for granted,” he states.