Rural Missouri - May 2021 - 21

THE MILL TRAIL
Kick off summer with an Ozarks mill tour

by Jim McCarty | jmccarty@ruralmissouri.coop

I

n the days before Amazon and Walmart, mills played
an important role for rural communities. They were
a place to get your corn ground into meal, but more
importantly were the centers for commerce and social
gatherings. A trip to the mill was a big deal for those country folk who might go months without seeing a neighbor.
There were hundreds of mills spread across the Ozarks,
where they were situated in the most scenic valleys in
order to harness the power of moving water.
Finding the last of these old mills is a rewarding quest,
particularly in these days of social distancing. Touring
Missouri's mills will broaden your horizons considerably as
you travel twisting, turning roads that lead to spectacular
scenery, clear-flowing springs and finally the weathered
and worn veterans themselves.
Some are located in small towns or state parks, while
others can be found miles from the nearest habitation.
Years ago, one almost had to stumble on the remaining
mills almost by accident. That was before the late Mike
McArthy devoted nearly 20 years of his life to documenting Missouri's old mills through the lens of his camera. In
2007, the St. Charles resident published a softcover book
titled " Historic Ozarks Mills. " The book sold out, and Mike
approached Rural Missouri about having it reprinted in
2010. The result was a hardcover version printed at Walsworth Publishing in Marceline.
Armed with a copy of the book, one can create their own
" Tour de Missouri Mills " using its turn-by-turn directions
to find more than 25 mills located across southern Missouri and northern Arkansas. Once found, the history and
folklore of the mills comes alive in the book's 100 pages.
Here's a look at a few of the mills in the book. Note that
while some are publicly owned, others are on private property. These are best enjoyed from the roadside. If you visit,
respect the landowner's privacy and don't trespass.
In either case, respect the fragile nature of these mills.
As Mike put it, " They are a historical treasure. Kind of like
the old covered bridges, once they are gone they are gone
for good and they are never coming back. "

Alley Spring Mill
One of the most photographed spots in Missouri, the bright
red mill located 6 miles west of Eminence rivals the Jacks Fork
and Current rivers as the crown jewel of the Ozark National
Scenic Riverways. The present mill dates to 1893 or 1894 and
was originally white with green trim. It was powered by a
beautiful spring that despite pumping out 81 million gallons
of water per day only ranks seventh in size among Missouri
springs.

" Historic Ozarks Mills " is
available for $20 plus shipping
from our online store at www.
ruralmissouri.org/store or by
calling 573-659-3423.

MAY 2021 | RURALMISSOURI.COOP

May21_Mills.indd 1

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4/7/21 11:01 AM


http://www.ruralmissouri.org/store http://www.RURALMISSOURI.COOP

Rural Missouri - May 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - May 2021

Contents
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