Ye Old Mill celebrates 100 years at the Minnesota State Fair
MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - It was officially declared "Ye Old Mill Day" in Minnesota to celebrate the ride's 100th year at the state fair on Thursday. But what's even more amazing, the same family has run the ride since the beginning.
Ye Old Mill, aka "the tunnel of love" is the fair's longest running ride -- and arguably, the one place on the fairgrounds where time has stood still.
"You're out of the commotion and the traffic you're into your own little tradition here with the Ye Old Mill,” Jeremy Keenan said. "It's the 100th year, so in 1915 my grandfather built this ride here at the Minnesota State Fair."
And the rest is history, literally -- "It is the original motor sitting exactly where it was placed 100 years ago,” Keenan said.
The same board is used each year to make sure the trough's width is the same throughout. Keenan showed us a behind the scenes look at the backyard -- "down there you see a number 4 on the door, that's a trap door, and that's usually used when we have a mechanical failure and we have to take people out.”
It’s nothing short of magical when you're a young Keenan boy working here, summer after summer.
"I used to open the trap doors and shine a flashlight down there to see if I could catch people smooching but I got in trouble for that, but it was fun,” he said.
And that's what makes the place so special. For as many memories that have been made in these tunnels -- the stolen kisses, the engagements -- just as many have been made back there, now by five generations of Keenans.
"There's definitely been a few moments where you look at my mom and dad and this means a lot to them,” he said. “All the work they put into it."
His dad is John, son of the John Keenan, who started it all. As he humbly accepted a proclamation from the governor Thursday declaring it “Ye Old Mill Day” in Minnesota, it's clear how proud he is of his family and the tradition they've built.
"In this world of chaos, ever changing, gotta get the new this, gotta get the new that, this is the wonderful old and there's some beauty to that,” Jim said.