An unusual example of a pre-Civil War grist mill is in storage in Northwest Missouri in Daviess County. Known as the Lewis Mill, the wooden water turbin which powered the milling operation was uncovered intact during bridge construction across the Grand River in 1989. Numerous other relics were uncovered and are preserved but in storage, awaiting the time when enthusiasts can muster a display.
In neighboring Livingston County you can see the Milbank Mill at the corner of Washington and Bryan Streets in Chillicothe. This steam-powered mill was built in 1867. Four generations of Milbanks have owned it.
In Clay County, just north of Kansas City, two mills can be viewed. To see the Corbin Mill, take Interstate 35 to Liberty. The mill is at the corner of Mill and Water Streets. All the equipment has been removed from this mill, which has been converted into offices. Watkins Woolen Mill was built in 1860. This three-story, steam-powered woolen mill has all the textile milling equipment intact.
The Missouri Department of Natural Resources maintains the brick mill and the Greek Revival house nearby. The mill is on the National Register of Historic Places and is open for tours. Take Interstate 35 to Kearney, then take Route 92 east 6 miles to RA. Go north 1.1 mile. The mill is at the Watkins Woolen Mill State Historic Site. For more information, call 816-296-3357.
Yankee Smith Mill was built in 1978 by the Kansas City Parks Department on the Platte River. It is a reproduction of a mill built by Yankee Smith in 1825. Go 3 miles west of Liberty in the Shoal Creek Living History area of Robert Hodge Park. For more information, call 816-792-2655.
Although several mills across the state have been preserved, there are many more that have fallen victim to rot and decay. The following descriptions, the most recent available, are provided by the Society for the Preservation of Old Mills (SPOOM). The organization, which began in 1972, has 2,000 members worldwide. They are mill enthusiasts who gather for an annual reunion at a selected mill site. For more information about SPOOM, call 616-866-0609 or visit the web site at www.spoom.org. If you can update us on the status of any of these mills, please write to Missouri Life, 1504 County Road 421, Fayette, MO 65248.
— Calton Mill: This non-operating turbine-powered mill looks like a two-story shed. Take Route 39 south at Aurora, 4 miles to Z, 5 miles west on W. south 4 miles to county bridge over Flat Creek, then right on gravel road at second curve.
— Roaring River: This is one of many mills that were built at this site over the years. Near the spring, the remains of an undershot wheel were discovered. From Cassville, take Route 112 to Roaring River State Park.
— Dolle Mill: This non-operating turbine-powered mill is also known as Bollinger Mill because it is owned by the Bollinger family. The original equipment remains intact. Take Route 72 northwest to EE until it crosses Whitewater River, then take the first gravel road to the right.
Cape Girardeau County
— Bollinger Mill: George Frederick Bollinger led pioneers from North Carolina to the Ozarks. They settled along the Whitewater River and built a mill and dam in 1800. The mill made Bollinger a well-known figure, and he became a Missouri senator. After he died in 1842, his daughter operated the mill with the help of her sons. Union troops burned the mill during the Civil War. After the war, Solomon R. Burford bought the property. He rebuilt the mill, and the structure standing today was completed in 1867. Look closely, and you can see Solomon’s initials on a wall. The Cape County Milling Company operated the mill from 1897 to 1953. Then the mill was sold to George Bollinger’s distant relatives, who donated it to the Cape Girardeau County Historical Society. In 1967, the state took possession of the mill. The mill and the nearby covered bridge make this a popular site for tourists. Located near Jackson, the mill is open to the public. For more information, call 573-243-4591 or 800-334-6946.
— John’s Mill: Built in 1992, this mill is powered by an overshot wheel. Go 1/4 mile west of Gordonville on Stone Haven Lane.
— Caplinger Mills: Not much remains of these deteriorating mills. The flour mill has been washed away, but the foundation is still intact. The nearby power house was operated by a turbine, and this is also intact. Take Highway 54 to Route 39 to N east.
— Ozark Mill: The original Ozark Mill is gone, but there is a diesel-powered feed mill near the city park. Take Highway 65 to Route 14. Mill is across the river from the park.
— Thorne’s Mill: only the foundation remains of what was reported to have been a four-story woolen and roller mill. Take Route 81 near Athens to CC. Go to Battle of Athens State Historic Site.
— Lohman Mill: There are actually two mills; one is a feed mill and the other is undergoing restoration. Go 6 miles west of Jefferson City on Highway 50 to St. Martins, then 5 miles south on D to Lohman.
— Dick’s Mill: This steam-powered mill has the roller mills and stones intact. Take Highway 50 to Tipton, then B north to AA. Go about 4 times and turn on the dirt road that comes immediately after a 90-degree curve. Go until you cross the bridge then continue to the mill.
— Rankin Mill: The equipment has been removed from this mill, and it is used as a storage shed. Take Boonville exit off Interstate 70. Go south on B to U, then go about 3 miles to bridge. The mill is nearby.
— Boubon Roller Mill: This mill has had the roller equipment removed, and there are silos attached to it. Interstate 44 to JJ. Exit at Bourbon, and the mill is in the town.
— Dillard Mill: This red mill stands at the junction of the Indian and Huzzah creeks. The current structure is the second mill to be built on the site. The first was Wisdom’s Mill, erected in the 1850’s. From 1881 to 1889, Joseph Dillard Cottrell and his brother, James, owned the mill. As the community grew, it became known as Dillard, named after Joseph. Andrew Jackson Mincher became the mill’s third owner in 1889. Six years later, the mill burned. Two Polish immigrants, Emil Mischke and his sister Mary, settled in the area in 1893 and bought the mill. In 1908, construction finished on the current mill. Lester E. Klemme bought the mill in 1930 and opened a lodge. He charged guests $7 a day for a cabin. After the mill closed in 1956, a foundation bought it and leased it to the Department of Natural Resources. Located near Dillard, the mill is open to the public. For more information, call 537-244-3120.
— Hulston Mill: Built in 1840, this mill was moved to its current location because of development around the original site. The Dade County Historical Society maintains a small park around the mill. The Hulston Mill Heritage Festival takes place Oct. 2-3, and the mill will be open for free tours. Take Highway 160 east of Greenfield to EE. Go 2 miles north then go east for 1 mile on a gravel road. For more information, call 417-673-2524.
— Lake Spring Mill: The rollers and steam engine for this mill have been removed, but other equipment remains intact. Take Route 72 about 14 miles south of Rolla to Lake Spring Mill is down an unmarked road.
— Montauk Mill: Montauk State Park’s seven streams add millions of gallons of water to the Current River each day. These springs also make the area the perfect site for a mill. Through the years, four different mills served the area, and the last one to be built still stands today. Constructed in 1896, the mill has most of the original machinery intact. The steel rollers were removed in 1942 for the war effort. The area around the mill became a state park in 1926 and quickly became one of Missouri’s most popular vacation spots known for fishing, camping, and canoeing. The mill, located in Montauk State Park near Salem, is open to the public. For more information, call 573-548-2201.
— Rockbridge Mill: At Rockbridge Mill and Spring Creek, soothing sounds of the cascading waterfall take your mind off daily worries, and it is easy to imagine earlier generations admiring the same peaceful view. The mill has been perched on the creek’s bank since 1868. A village quickly grew up around it, so B.V. Morris, the mill’s owner joined with John Edwards to open a bank in 1903. The village prospered for years, but as the need for the mill lessened, the community dwindled. Thirty years after opening the bank closed, followed by the mill’s closing in the late ’40’s. In 1954, the Amyx family bought the mill. Today, the area that was once home to villagers continues to teem with people. Ray Amyx maintains the mill as a historic attraction at his popular resort, Rainbow Trout and Game Ranch. Now, people gather by the mill during the day to socialize. Those in search of adventure can wade into the chilly water and try their luck at catching rainbow trout swimming near the waterfall. The clear-running water allows the fish to be seen by anglers. Mill admirers wanting the best angle for a photograph should also venture into the water because the opposite bank provides a better view of the red mill and its sloping roof. At night, the doors of the mill open to reveal a bar lit by lanterns hanging overhead. People can sit on the mill’s deck and enjoy drinks while watching the sun set behind the hillside. Those who can’t bear to leave the tranquil setting don’t have to; rooms are available for rent. The resort’s restaurant has also earned a reputation for tasty fish dinners, and the bank has been converted into an antique store. For more information or to make a reservation, call 417-673619.
— Topaz Mill: Built in 1895, this mill has been restored. Take Route 181 south from Cabool then go right on Route 76 and left on E. Follow E to a gravel road and keep to the right.
— Gerald Roller Mill: This steam-powered mill has been converted into a tavern. Take Highway 50 to Gerald Mill is next to the railroad tracks.
— Noser Mill: Built in 1852, the sone mill can be viewed from the old bridge over the Bourbuese River. Take Route 185 south to Beaufort to Old Noser Mill Road.
— Washington Mill: This is a two-story brick feed mill. Take Route 47 to East Fifth Street then to Market Street in Washington. Go right and follow street to the Missouri River. The mill is on the corner.
— Wolf Milling Company: The advertising sign is still visible on the front of the mill. Take Route 100 to New Haven and follow the signs to the business district. The mill is at the end of Front Street.
— Bay Mill: This electric-powered mill is located by a large stone barn and a store. Take Highway 50 and WW then go 3 miles to Bay.
— Drake Mill: This two-story, steam-powered mill has had its equipment removed. The mill is across the street from a brick store, which is also worth a visit. The mill is at the intersection of Highway 50 and Route 19 at Drake.
— Star Milling Company: This large brick mill has an impressive appearance. Take Route 19 to Hermann. The mill is on Main Street two blocks east of the Missouri River bridge.
— Owensville Roller Mill: This mill has been converted into a restaurant and bar. Take Highway 19 to Red Oak. Go 1 mile to mill at Owensville.
— Red Bird Mill: This three-story wood-framed mill is used for storage. Out of St. James, take B north about 15 miles. Watch for Red Bird sign indicating a right turn. Mill is almost a mile down the gravel road.
— Rosebud Mill: This is a two-story brick mill. Take Highway 50 to Rosebud. The mill is at the east end of town next to railroad tracks.
— Eisenmeyer Milling Company: This large mill has silos attached to it. Take Business Route 44 and National in Springfield.
— Hawkins Mill: The old mill has had additions built on, but the original structure is still apparent. At bypass 13 and Walnut in Springfield.
— Whinrey Mill: Built in the 1850’s this mill is behind a fence. To see from the road, go west of Springfield on 266 to F then 3 miles north to Farm Road 120 and 3/4 mile to Sac River. The mill near Halltown on a corner.
— Wommack Mill: This steam-powered sawmill was built in 1893 and is part of the National Register of Historic Places. From Interstate 44 at Springfield, take Highway 65 north to Route 125. Go east into Fair Grove Mill is in a park on the east side of Main Street.
— Weaubleau Mill: this mill has steel siding, and all equipment has been removed. Take Highway 54 to Weaubleau. Mill is on east edge of town.
— Willow Springs Mill: The equipment has been removed from this mill. Take Business Route 60 in Willow Springs. The mill is next to railroad tracks.
— Waggoner-Gates Mill: This two-story brick mill now houses the National Frontier Center at 318 W. Pacific in Independence.
— Cedar Hill Mill: This turbine-powered mill is best viewed from the park across the river. Take Route 30 to BB. The mill is at the southeast edge of Cedar Hill.
— Magnolia Mill: This wooden mill has concrete silos standing next to it. At the intersection of Washington and Pine streets in Warrensburg.
— Orla Mill: This mill has been converted to a residence and is not open to the public, but it is visible from the bridge over the creek. Take Route 5 south from Orla to C. Go until the end of the blacktop.
— Higginsville Mill: This brick mill was built in 1849. Take Route 13 to Higginsville. The mill is on west side of business district.
— Paydown Mill: The equipment has been removed from this mill. Take Route 42 10 miles east of Vienna.
— Bray’s Mill: The overshot wheel to this mill is intact. Go 3 1/4 miles east of Iberia on Route 42. Mill is next to a gravel road to the left after crossing Kenser Creek bridge.
— St. Elizabeth Mill: This feed mill features modern elevators. Take Route 52 to east edge of St. Elizabeth. Mill is on south side of the road.
— Star Roller Mill: This red brick mill is now a feed mill. Take Highway 50 to California. Mill is next to railroad tracks.
— Stover Mill: Original mill is now part of a feed mill. on Route 52 in Stover.
— Jolly Mill: This mill earned its name because it was once a distillery, and Jolly is short for jollification. A town named jollification sprouted up around the mill, which was built by slave labor in 1848. It is part of the National Register of Historic Places. Take Highway 60 west from Monett. Go 7 miles then turn south on Road 2020. Go 2 miles. The mill is located near the bridge.
— Falling Spring Mill: This is a small one-story mill. Take Route 19 north of Greer for 7 miles. Turn onto Forest Service Road 3170 and follow the left fork. Go 10 miles down the gravel road to the mill.
— Bonnots Mill: on the National Register of Historic Places, this mill is located in a town of the same name. Take Highway 50 to Loose Creek then go north on A for 6 miles to the town. Mill is next to railroad tracks.
— Hope Mill: This stone mill has had its equipment removed. Take Highway 50 to N and go 7 miles to Hope.
— Westphalia Mill: This mill operated until 1948. It has been converted to a feed mill and is on Highway 63 on the side of a hill near Westphalia.
— Hodgson Mill: This turbine-powered mill has been renovated and opened for tourist visits. It is visible from a pull-off area along the road. The combination of the red mill tucked up against the hillside and the clear tumbling waterfall in front of it makes a picturesque scene. The mill overlooks the Bryant River, so visitors can stick their hands in and feel the frigid water. The first mill to stand at this site was built around 1870. Alva Hodgson bought the mill in 1884, and it is named after him. The mill changed ownership through the years until C.T. Aid purchased it in the early 1930’s. Then called the Aid-Hodgson Mill, it remained in the Aid family until 1998 when it was sold to a man wanting to restore it. He died recently, and now the mill faces an uncertain future.
— Dawt Mill: Built in 1887 by Alva Hodgson, this mill continues to serve as a center of activity. The mill is at the heart of a resort area that includes campsites and a general store. The mill burned in 1896, but it was rebuilt a year later and has been kept in working condition for more than 100 years. Don’t let the water wheel next to the mill fool you; it is only for looks. A turbine powered by the North Fork River ran the mill. on the mill’s porch are a cluster of antiques next to a bench that invites visitors to rest a spell. Inside the mill, most of the equipment is intact. But the machinery shares space with a gift shop that sells an assortment of wares from T-shirts to jelly. Cinnamon rolls, cookies, and bread are baked in a kitchen in the mill and provide the rustic structure with an unexpected sweet scent. Near the mill is the old general store where nature-lovers can reserve camping sites or sign up for canoe or tubing strips down the North Fork River. Water enthusiasts are dropped off upriver from the mill, so they can float down to the Dawt site where the trip ends. For travelers who aren’t in a hurry, a walk onto the concrete bridge provides a prime spot for watching the waterfall. From this location, the mill also appears more impressive as it looms high on the hill. For more information or to make reservation, call 417-284-3540.
— Hammond Mill: A tornado blew the roof off while it was in the midst of being restored. Now the mill is deteriorating. From Gainsville, go north on Route 5 to Z. Go left on Z to gravel road and turn left. Cross the concrete bridge to the mill, which is about 14 miles from Route 5.
— Zanoni Mill: Ozark County’s only surviving mill with an overshot water wheel is backed up to a rocky hillside. Spring water pours out of these hills into a wooden flume, which funneled the water over the wheel. A.P. Morrison owned the mill and the nearby general store, which housed the post office. A.P. was a storekeeper who also served as a county commissioner. His grandson, Dave, says he can remember hearing stories about square dances being held in the mill and a sewing factory operating on the second floor. “It was quite a little village in the wagon days,” Dave says. The mill shut down in 1951, and A.P. died on 1969. A St. Louis man owned the mill and the surrounding land for a few years later, they began building the colonial home that sits in front of the original farmhouse. After their children went to college, the couple decided to open their large home to others. Taking its name from the mill, the Zanoni Mill Inn attracts visitors from across the country. In front of the mill is a lake fed by Zanoni Spring. Guests can take leisurely rides in paddle boats or fish form the banks. “I’ve always liked this place,” Dave says. “It is home to me, and it has a lot of historical interest to many people.” For more information or to make reservations, call (417) 679-4050.
— Sedalia Milling Company: A renovation revealed the name “Sedalia Milling company” on the mill’s exterior. Take Highway 50 to the intersection of Moniteau and Main streets in Sedalia.
— Maramec Spring: This mill has the first iron works in the state, and the forge is still intact. Take Route 8 about 7 miles south of St. James.
— Reed Spring Mill: This one-story mill is a reproduction of one that was moved to the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. Take Route 21 to Centerville then take Pine Street about half a mile to the mill.
St. Charles County
— Blair Milling Company: This is a feed mill. At junction of D and Z on Mill Street in New Melle.
— Blanchette-Chouteau Mill: Lewis and Clark departed for their expedition from the creek by the mill. This brick mill was once a grist mill and then a woolen mill. It has been renovated and now houses the Trailhead Brewing Company. Take Interstate 70 to St. Charles. Mill is at 921 Main St.
— Borgmann Mill: This two-story mill is the only remaining animal-powered one on the state. Mill is part of the National Register of Historic Places. Take County Road D 5 miles east of Marthasville. Follow signs to Daniel Boone Home, and mill is 1 mile west on Route 94.
St. Francois County
— Farmington Mill: This one-story brick feed mill has had additions. Off Route 32 at Farmington.
Ste. Genevieve County
— Brickey’s Mill: This stone mill now houses the Mill Antique Mart. Take Interstate 55 to Highway 32 exit. The mill is northeast of downtown next to the railroad tracks.
St. Louis County
— Coulter Mill: This brick mill retains its original appearance. Take interstate 270 to Kirkwood. Mill is in town.
— Alley Spring Mill: A paved path winding from the parking lot leads you to this red mill nestled among trees in the Ozark National Scenic Riverways. Alley Spring Mill and the clear blue spring that gives it its name make such a stunning combination that numerous brides chose the site for their weddings. Construction of the three-story mill began in 1893 by George McCaskill. The original mill was painted white. The mill operated until the Missouri Park Board purchased it in 1924. Much to the dislike of local residents, the mill was painted red in 1940. In 1953, the mill reopened to grind cornmeal. The Alley Spring area became part of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways in 1970. Inside the mill is the original machinery, which provides a close-up look at how grinding was done. Beneath the mill’s back steps is the original turbine. Take time to walk the looping trail behind the mill because it offers a better view of the spring. Located five miles west of Eminence, the mill is open to the public. For more information, call 573-323-4236.
— Klepzig Mill: This turbine-powered mill was built in 1912. The National Park Service owns it, and it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Visitors should not enter the structure because it is dangerous. Mill is also difficult to reach because road is rough. Take Route 106 east to H. Go south on H to NN and follow it to end of blacktop. Take first left and go 1 mile. Mill is on right but is hard to see.
— Fleetwood Mills: Grist mills and sawmills have recently been constructed. This is a private project, so contact owner at 573-226-3643 before visiting. Take Route 106 west about half a mile to Harvey’s Campground. Go right for 100 feet, then turn left.
— Spring Creek Mill: This mill stopped operating in 1955 but is being restored. Mill is 2 miles north of Crane on Highway 265 then 4 miles east on A.
— Edwards Mill: This mill was built in 1971. Students of the College of the Ozarks operate it. Take Highway 65 south of Branson to the College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout. For more information, call 417-334-6411.
— Shepherd of the Hills Mill: This is part of a Branson attraction. Take Highway 76 about 4 miles west of Branson.
— Sullivan Mill: This reproduction of an 1880’s flour mill is powered by an overshot wheel. Take Highway 76 west of Branson to Silver Dollar City.
— Houston Mill: This is a two-story feed mill. Take Highway 63 in Houston. Mill is on Main Street.
— White Dove Mill: This mill was powered by steam. At intersection of Highway 63 and Route 32 in Licking.
— Producers Union Mill: This mill has tin siding. Take Route 54 to Walnut on east edge of Nevada.
Warren County— Holstein Mill: Built in 1871, this is now a feed mill. Take Route 94 to Treloar. Take N 1 mile northeast to Holstein. Go a half mile down Mill Street, and mill is on the right.
— Farrell Feed Mill: The original mill has had additions. on east edge of Belgrade next to a cemetery.
— Markum Springs Mill: This mill is powered by an overshot wheel. Take Highway 49 north of Williamsville. Exit at Markum Springs.
Source: MissouriLife, October/November 1999