What a great choice to preserve this piece of Ozark history. I have spent a lot of time just upstream from here catching catfish when I was younger and always loved this mill. I have included a selection from Born of the Ozarks that I wrote about mills in the Ozarks. I hope you enjoy.
The Old Mill
I see the old mill sitting abandoned, with no water flowing near. I hear it whisper to me. It talks of the days when its great wooden wheel powered a whole community, when people would gather around it for picnics and sack races on hot summer days.
I hear the mill call me inside. As I enter, I see the rusted gears, the broken grindstone, and the missing boards. The smell of molded sawdust lingers in my nose. High in a rafter I see an old cane pole crusted with many summers worth of mud dauber nests. I take it down.
Stepping back out into the sunshine, I am suddenly tired. I sit down and lean back against the shaded trunk of a hundred year oak that stands guard over the mill.
The mill tells me that it still hears the lost echoes of children splashing in the water of the mill pond. It remembers the wagons lined up and down the road, laden with a family’s harvest. People talking of news that was months old and gossip that wasn’t.
The oak whispers to me of those who napped, and fished, and courted in the shade of its branches. The oak and the mill grew up and grew old together. I know that like an old married couple, when one of them is gone the other will soon follow.
The cane pole remembers too, and tells me of the many people that borrowed it from the mill to pass the time while the mill ground the fruits of a year’s labor. The millpond is dry, but I cast the ancient fishing string into it anyway.
A slight breeze, cooled in the oak’s shade, blows against my cheek. I close my eyes and breathe deeply of the fresh air. I notice the faint smell of cornmeal and sawdust. I hear the hooves of horses and the creaking wheels of a burdened wagon. The sounds of hearty laughter and splashing water fill the air. I can hear the rythmatic sound of the mill wheel turning as water rushes past, catching against the paddles and swirling into the millpond.
I open my eyes and look to the mill. The breeze has caught just right against the paddles of the mills’ wheel. I watch as the wheel turns slowly reaching into the millrace for water that isn’t there. As I sit there I think I can hear the old mill cry.
~ M. R Cantrell ~