When pioneer Sands McCamly first visited Battle Creek around 1830, he discovered that the confluence of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo river in what is now downtown Battle Creek, was the ideal spot to build a mill race.
What is a mill race? A mill race is essentially a man-made channel between two rivers or bodies of water, ideally with one body of water on a slightly higher plain than the other (as in the two rivers in downtown Battle Creek). The channel then drives water down it between the two rivers, and makes for a perfect environment for building mills along the channel with larger mill wheels to grind grain, straw, wheat, etc.
It is an early form of industrialization that formed a small community that eventually grew into the City we know today as Battle Creek. More importantly it is this presence of the milling industry that created the resources for the later developed cereal industry.
The Mill Race Fountain in downtown Battle Creek is built on the spot across from the Kellogg Foundation where the mill race used to exist. The Mill Race Fountain is designed to look somewhat like the mill race, and in the art work along the back drop of the waterfall it depicts in reliefs the various stages of the construction of the mill race.
The Mill Race Fountain is designed to run fast, and the added effect of slate makes for a rushing sound of rapid water. The Mill Race Fountain has a nice walkway that goes across the fountain, where many passersby drop coins into the fountain from above making a wish.
There is also a plaque commemorating Sands McCamly as part of the landmark. McCamly and his wife were widely known throughout the area in their day for their charity and kindness to members of the community.