The first flour mill in Pierce County was constructed here about 1880 by Stephen F. Gilman. Power for its operation came from a dam on the north fork of the Elkhorn River. Flour from the mill was marketed widely under the "Golden Crescent" brand-name.
Flour milling was an important pioneer industry in Nebraska. Small mills processed locally-grown grain, provided jobs, and brought customers to patronize the stores of hometown merchants. The mill ponds provided recreation including fishing, swimming, and ice skating. The Pierce Mill was a mainstay of the area's economy until it was destroyed by fire on November 7, 1908. Though the mill was rebuilt, the importance of small-town mills had begun to wane; soon after a flood destroyed the mill dam in 1942, the Pierce Mill closed permanently.
In 1935 the City of Pierce acquired the mill site from Stephen F. Gilman's heirs and a new dam was built by the Federal Emergency Relief Administration. The resulting park was named in honor of the Gilman family. Subsequent improvements have expanded the park to its present fifty acres.