Among well-established local traditions, one has earned its reputation as an annual staple of the Christmas season — shining down on Shawnee residents for more than eight decades. Anchored atop a 90-foot elevator at Shawnee Milling Co., the simple, yet enduring feature greets area residents each December.

Among well-established local traditions, one has earned its reputation as an annual staple of the Christmas season — shining down on Shawnee residents for more than eight decades. Anchored atop a 90-foot elevator at Shawnee Milling Co., the simple, yet enduring feature greets area residents each December.

In 1935, the 26-foot tall, 14-foot wide Christmas star was placed high above the mill's employees –– and has been perched there ever since.

The mill

A year before statehood –– in 1906 — when Shawnee was just 11 years old, J. Lloyd Ford bought Shawnee Roller Mills.

Ford changed the businesses’ name to Shawnee Milling Co. and transported it north, across the North Canadian River, to the site where the company stands now.

After much success and expansion, the company was dealt a tragic blow on Aug. 11, 1934, when the mill burned to the ground; the loss was estimated to be around $300,000.

Without hesitation, Ford immediately gathered his employees and hired them to clear the site –– and just nine months later Shawnee Milling rose from the ashes, celebrating with a three-day dedication in June of 1935 — just months before the star was added.