Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 26

Curios | Woodson's Mill

WOODSON'S MILL:
'Like a Miracle'
at its 220th Birthday
THE OLD MILL SAT IDLE FOR A DECADE,
NEARLY FALLING TO THE
FORCES OF HISTORY.
Text and photo by Joe Tennis

Will Brockenbrough operates
Woodson's Mill, which is
listed on the national historic
landmark register.

STEVE ROBERTS MADE HIS FIRST TRIP TO Woodson's
Mill as a wide-eyed eight-year-old. Thirty year later, in
1986, he became the head miller and discovered he had
a natural passion to crush corn and grind his way to
grits at this operation near Lowesville, Va.
"Water power has always been an interest to me,"
says Roberts, 65. "There's the sound and the vibrations,
and all this and that, and to hear the waterwheel going
around at the same time, it has a life of its own."

26 | BlueRidgeCountry.com

Then came the shutdown. Woodson's Mill closed
after the death of its owner, J. Gill Brockenbrough, Jr.,
in 2001. And it would be as if Steve Roberts' favorite
job ground to a halt, too. "I had chalked it up to history," he remembers.
Yet, like a miracle, Roberts was "ecstatic" to return
in 2012. That year, Roberts helped Gill's son, Will
Brockenbrough, get the overshot wheel at Woodson's
Mill turning once more with the power of the Piney
River.
"Steve pretty much single-handedly led the dayto-day restoration," says Will Brockenbrough. "All the
equipment was here, for the most part. We just had to
figure out how to put it together and make it work."
This mill, for Will Brockenbrough, "has been in
my life, pretty much, all my life." Today, it's simply
part of how the entrepreneur explains what he does for
a living: "I own a mill," he says. "You can't do this parttime. It's a commitment."
Inside the towering wooden structure, grains are
stone-ground slowly, by hand, to preserve oils, moisture content, nutrients and flavor that are often lost in
high-speed milling. This process creates all-natural
grits, buckwheat flours and cornmeal in small batches
from local ingredients - all without preservatives,
Brockenbrough says. "We're really trying to be a commercial mill here, a business that supports itself."
You can visit the mill on Saturday afternoons,
spring to fall, and find its products at both
Charlottesville restaurants and the nearby Wintergreen
Resort, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway.
"A building like this, if you don't use it, it will fall
apart," Brockenbrough says. "There's only one real use
for something like this: and that's to allow it to work
and grind."
Guiliford Campbell built the original mill, in the
days of George Washington's presidency, during 1794.
It was improved by the Fulcher family in the 1840s
and took its current name from Dr. Julian B. Woodson,
who owned it several decades later until his death in
1963.
This year, as Woodson's Mill celebrates its 220-year
anniversary, it's a curiosity to consider that it still
stands, let alone operates as a viable business.
"It's a rarity these days that there's really a waterpowered gristmill out there that's really operating,"
Roberts says. "There's just less and less of these mills
around. When one falls by the wayside, nobody builds
another water-mill." 
IF YOU GO

Woodson's Mill
3211 Lowesville Rd., Roseland, VA 22967
804-803-1794
woodsonsmill.com
grits@woodsonsmill.com


http://www.woodsonsmill.com http://www.BlueRidgeCountry.com

Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014

Cover
Table of Contents
Letters/Worth a Click
From the Editor
Creature Feature
From the Farm
Great Home Buys
Digital Help Guide
Mountain Report
The Hike
Festivals & Events
Mountain Curios: Racing Lawn Mowers
Mountain Curios: Stamping Out Squirrel Sex!
Mountain Curios: A Library as Big as a Breadbox?
Mountain Curios: Mill from 1794 Still Turns!
Mountain Curios: Indian Mounds in Downtown!
Travel Guide 2014: A Year of Great Festivals!
The Blue Ridge Parkway Photoessay
Travel Guide 2014: A Foodie's Dream Journey
Travel Guide 2014: The Retro Pilgrimage
Wilderness Institute in the Smokies
Mountain Garden
Cabin in the Woods: Royal Oaks Retreat
Guest Column
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - Intro
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - Cover
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - Cover2
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - Table of Contents
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 4
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - Letters/Worth a Click
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - From the Editor
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - Creature Feature
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - From the Farm
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 9
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - Great Home Buys
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 11
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 12
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - Digital Help Guide
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - Mountain Report
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 15
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - The Hike
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 17
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - Festivals & Events
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 19
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 20
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 21
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 22
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - Mountain Curios: Racing Lawn Mowers
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - Mountain Curios: Stamping Out Squirrel Sex!
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - Mountain Curios: A Library as Big as a Breadbox?
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - Mountain Curios: Mill from 1794 Still Turns!
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - Mountain Curios: Indian Mounds in Downtown!
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - Travel Guide 2014: A Year of Great Festivals!
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 29
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 30
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 31
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 32
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 33
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - The Blue Ridge Parkway Photoessay
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 35
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 36
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 37
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - Travel Guide 2014: A Foodie's Dream Journey
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 39
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 40
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 41
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 42
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 43
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 44
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 45
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 46
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 47
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - Travel Guide 2014: The Retro Pilgrimage
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 49
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 50
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 51
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 52
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 53
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - Wilderness Institute in the Smokies
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 55
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 56
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 57
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 58
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - Mountain Garden
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 60
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 61
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - Cabin in the Woods: Royal Oaks Retreat
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 63
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 64
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 65
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - Guest Column
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - Cover3
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - Cover4
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