Ruth and I just returned from a two-week photography trip to North Carolina. This is the first of a number of stories we will share from the trip. On the tenth day of our trip, we left North Carolina, crossed the corner of Virginia, and headed into West Virginia. Our plans called for us to reach Babcock State Park by evening.
Within the boundaries of Babcock State Park, on Glade Creek, in the New River Gorge National River area, sits one of the most photographed mills in West Virginia. This mill is a 1976 reproduction of Cooper’s Mill, a grist mill which once stood nearby on Glade Creek.
The Glade Creek Grist Mill was authentically constructed using materials from three former West Virginia mills. The Stoney Creek Grist Mill, dating back to 1890, provided the basic structure and was carefully dismantled in Pocahontas County and put back together piece by piece at Babcock State Park in Fayette County.
The beautiful overshot waterwheel was salvaged from Spring Run Grist Mill in Grant County after a fire destroyed everything but the waterwheel. The Onega Grist Mill, in Pendleton County, supplied the materials for other parts of the mill. Today, the Glade Creek Grist Mill produces freshly ground buckwheat flour and cornmeal, which can be purchased by park visitors.
Glade Creek, which is full of boulders and small waterfalls, is an idyllic setting where fly fishermen, photographers, sightseers, nature lovers, and mill enthusiasts join together to enjoy the sights and sounds of this wonderful setting. We visited Babcock State Park on a beautiful spring evening and the creek was full of fly fishermen. As I was photographing the mill from the huge rocks downstream, I met some nice people who were also there to photograph the mill.
When I’d finished and was heading back to the car, I saw an older couple standing in front of the mill. They looked very much in love, which was confirmed when the gentleman got down on one knee to propose.
I noticed that the man had a camera on his belt, so I gave them some time and then went over and asked them if they would like me to take their picture. They were very pleased and recreated the moment so that I could capture it with the grist mill in the background.
After that, Ruth and I went up the mountain to have a picnic supper as we watched the last rays of daylight sink into the valley below. The next morning, we returned in the predawn hours to capture the mill as the moon was beginning to set.
If you ever have the opportunity to visit West Virginia, don’t pass up the chance to enjoy the beauty of this wonderful state park and grist mill.