By Ruth A. Ringelstetter
In the spring of 2008, Joann and I set off on a 10-day trip to Missouri and Arkansas. We had so much to see, starting with portions of Route 66, including Gay Parita and Red Oak II and continuing into the Ozarks.
Since the beginning of our travels, we have loved old mills. Luckily, the Ozark region has many of these old mills still standing.
Our first mill was the historic Wommack Mill in Fair Grove, Missouri. The mill was built in 1883 as the Boegel & Hine Mill and it is the oldest standing building in town. From the mill’s beginning in 1883 until the doors closed in 1969 after the death of Clifford Wommack, the mill was known by many different names.
The mill stood idle until 1984 when the Fair Grove Historical and Preservation Society bought the mill from the Wommack heirs and began restoration.
Joann and I are always impressed and incredibly grateful for the extraordinary amount of work that these dedicated volunteers undertake in restorations such as this one.
Next we came across the remains of the the Truesdale-Pyeatte and Moore Mill, with its huge overshot waterwheel. This mill is perched on the side of a small hill and, as you drive up, the remaining stone foundation and huge wheel are very impressive.
In 1840, the 36-foot waterwheel was shipped by wagon to Cane Hill for John Truesdale. In 1866, the mill was moved one mile north of its original location by Pyeatte and Moore.
The mill is now owned by the Cane Hill Restoration Society and the site is now a small roadside park. It was an impressive place to take a small break as Joann took her photos and we spent some time out of the car.
Another mill we visited was an old two-story wooden mill with a wooden waterwheel and a long wooden flume.
We don’t have any information about the mill, including who built it or when. This mill sits at the site of a Civil War battle.
Searching for Falling Spring Mill took us miles down lonely unpaved forest roads in the Mark Twain National Forest. We were wondering if we had missed the signs, until finally we reached the mill. The pond in front of the mill is a startling tropical-like blue, and you can see the blue color in the water pouring from the spring behind the mill.
This small two-story mill was constructed beginning in 1927, first of timber and later covered by saw board.
This mill was a multi-purpose mill that was used for grinding corn, sawing shingles and firewood, and generating electricity.
Reed Springs Mill is a replica of an earlier mill. The original mill and dam were built in 1881 to grind corn and wheat. Sometime before 1915, the mill began to generate electricity for the town.
The original mill was taken down board by board and shipped to San Francisco for exhibition at the 1939 World’s Fair. Then it was shipped to Washington, D.C. and is currently held in storage at the Smithsonian Institution.
The small, one-story mill is privately owned but can be seen from the road. The mill is very picturesque.
Every day of our trips, as we review the photos from the day, we appreciate all of the places we were lucky enough to visit that day. And, as the months and years pass since these trips, the photos still remind us of those days on the backroads of America, which makes us excited for the backroads to come.