Grist Mills

People in the Ozarks made good use of the abundant water in the area, building grist mills that quickly became the centers of community life.  People would come from miles around a mill, bringing their grain and using the trip as an opportunity to socialize, catch up on news, purchase goods at a general store and get repairs done at a blacksmith shop. 

 Dawt Mill was first on our grist mill tour.  Wow, were we disappointed.  We arrived to a scene of destruction, construction, noise, heavy duty equipment, furniture scattered everywhere, and men working in hard hats!!  The creek was behind a fence and barely visible.  There was no evidence of a mill that we could see.  We were not aware that this past April there was a huge flood in the area following many days of rain.  The water in the creek had risen to abut 15 feet above its normal high flow level and had taken out just abut everything and put it downstream.  The men working the site were in the process of trying to rebuild.  We took a photograph of the sign and drove away.  We have since learned that most mills have faced destruction from fire, floods and war (yep, both Union and Confederate soldiers were happy to destroy a mill so the other side could not use it).

Dawt Mill was first on our grist mill tour.  Wow, were we disappointed.  We arrived to a scene of destruction, construction, noise, heavy duty equipment, furniture scattered everywhere, and men working in hard hats!!  The creek was behind a fence and barely visible.  There was no evidence of a mill that we could see.  We were not aware that this past April there was a huge flood in the area following many days of rain.  The water in the creek had risen to abut 15 feet above its normal high flow level and had taken out just abut everything and put it downstream.  The men working the site were in the process of trying to rebuild.  We took a photograph of the sign and drove away.  We have since learned that most mills have faced destruction from fire, floods and war (yep, both Union and Confederate soldiers were happy to destroy a mill so the other side could not use it).

 Our second stop was at the Hodgson Mill.  Notice the ladder and pick up?  Guess what!  Closed due to flooding that occurred at Dawt Mill.  The gift shop on the second floor was flooded and mill equipment ruined.  Hodgson has not been a working mill for some time.  The mill has moved into modern facilities in Gainsville and we saw milled grain from the new mill in many grocery stores.  But . . . how long are you guys going to be here?  This was not the scene I wanted to capture!!!

Our second stop was at the Hodgson Mill.  Notice the ladder and pick up?  Guess what!  Closed due to flooding that occurred at Dawt Mill.  The gift shop on the second floor was flooded and mill equipment ruined.  Hodgson has not been a working mill for some time.  The mill has moved into modern facilities in Gainsville and we saw milled grain from the new mill in many grocery stores.  But . . . how long are you guys going to be here?  This was not the scene I wanted to capture!!!

 The creek bed is just as it looks here.  Greener than green and so clear you just could not believe your eyes.

The creek bed is just as it looks here.  Greener than green and so clear you just could not believe your eyes.

 Tom and I have different post processing strategies!  If you look carefully you can see colors of the rainbow in the fine silk water.

Tom and I have different post processing strategies!  If you look carefully you can see colors of the rainbow in the fine silk water.

 About an hour after we arrived at the mill, the construction crew put their ladder away and drove off.  We were told we were welcome to stay and we did for a while.

About an hour after we arrived at the mill, the construction crew put their ladder away and drove off.  We were told we were welcome to stay and we did for a while.

 This is where the water wheel would have been located.  It is under the mill.

This is where the water wheel would have been located.  It is under the mill.

 We took off again, worried that we would find the same at Rockbridge Mill.  There is limited cell phone service in these parts of the Ozark Mountains so calling ahead was not an option.  We trusted we would find something.  Besides, we had planned to have lunch at the restaurant located next to the mill and they were highly rated for their fresh trout.

We took off again, worried that we would find the same at Rockbridge Mill.  There is limited cell phone service in these parts of the Ozark Mountains so calling ahead was not an option.  We trusted we would find something.  Besides, we had planned to have lunch at the restaurant located next to the mill and they were highly rated for their fresh trout.

 So, disappointment again.  Rockbridge is not a working mill.  Rather, it has found new life in being a community center for a different reason.  In this building there was a bar, a place to dance and hang out.  The restaurant was open and we had a fabulous lunch of fresh trout.

So, disappointment again.  Rockbridge is not a working mill.  Rather, it has found new life in being a community center for a different reason.  In this building there was a bar, a place to dance and hang out.  The restaurant was open and we had a fabulous lunch of fresh trout.

 This might be considered the back side of the mill.  When the flood occurred it took out the bar and dance floor.  You can see the damaged side on the first floor.  It also damaged the fish hatchery further downstream.  While recovery is taking place, the bar is still not open for business.

This might be considered the back side of the mill.  When the flood occurred it took out the bar and dance floor.  You can see the damaged side on the first floor.  It also damaged the fish hatchery further downstream.  While recovery is taking place, the bar is still not open for business.

 This is the side facing the creek.  You can pick out some fishermen fly fishing for trout.  They have what is called 'catch and keep' permits.

This is the side facing the creek.  You can pick out some fishermen fly fishing for trout.  They have what is called 'catch and keep' permits.

 This water is also very clear and quite green.

This water is also very clear and quite green.

 We asked if we could go into the bar area, even though it is under construction.  We wanted to be able to look down onto the pond and fishermen.

We asked if we could go into the bar area, even though it is under construction.  We wanted to be able to look down onto the pond and fishermen.

 From above you can see the creek before it falls over the retaining wall.

From above you can see the creek before it falls over the retaining wall.

 Aha!!  I knew that he had something on his hook.  The line pulled taught.

Aha!!  I knew that he had something on his hook.  The line pulled taught.

 He has his net ready.  Can you spot the trout?

He has his net ready.  Can you spot the trout?

 Nice looking trout!

Nice looking trout!

It was a long drive home, but worth it.  The day started out as a photo-adventure but when I returned home I started doing some serious research on grist mills.  I am so glad that I am not too old to learn.  Now I have a whole list of mills I want to visit!!!