4.3
4 votes

Mill Springs Mill

9135 Highway 1275 North, Monticello, Kentucky 42633 USA

“Take a journey back in time”

Visit the historic gristmill at Mill Springs Mill on the shoreline of Lake Cumberland in Monticello, Ky.  You can take a journey back in time when cornmeal and wheat were once processed and shipped down the Cumberland River to customers downstream.  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District operates the historic mill where two 48-inch stones, or French burrs, imported from a quarry in northern France, are still used today and are capable of milling up to 1,600 pounds of corn an hour.   The world's largest overshot waterwheel with a diameter of 40 feet turns the stones off and on for about 45 minutes, which equates to about 50 pounds of corn, just enough cornmeal for the gift shop operated by the Monticello Women's Club. The gift shop is open Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m.; Friday, Saturday and Monday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Tuesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. In 1973 the mill was designated as a National Historic Site.  In 1976, a major restoration to the structure and grounds was completed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Traditional tools and skills were used to render the Mill as close to the original work as possible. The use of mortar was forgone to make the restorations as close to the original millwrights, Andrew Denney, as possible. Old fashioned cut nails and even the paint colors were carefully duplicated. Mill Springs is now on the National Register of Battlefields and is one of 25 Civil War battlefields that is included on a special Endangered Battlefield list. The story of Mill Springs Mill began around 1817 when Charles, John and Dr. James Metcalf settled in the area and erected a cereal grinding mill, or a grist mill as they were usually called, for the milling of corn and wheat.  The mill was equipped with 48 inch French burrs, millstones for grinding wheat and corn.  Flour and cornmeal were custom ground for families who brought their grain by wagon or horseback on milling day. The year 1824 brought the destruction of the Metcalfe Mill and factories due to fire. John Metcalfe took on the task of rebuilding and reconstruction was completed in 1839. In 1825, a post office was established near the mill and was called Mill Springs, Kentucky. John Metcalfe, Jr. was designated the first post-master. On Jan. 19, 1862, blood was shed on the grounds of Mill Springs as the North fought the South. Coveted because of it's easy defense capabilities, ferry landings, commandment of the river and easy approaches to Cumberland Gap and the mountain pass at Jacksboro, Tennessee, The Battle of Mill Springs, as it came to be called, was one of the first great battles of the Civil War. It proved to be one of the most significant for federal troops as well by marking the very first major defeat of Confederate forces.  The first break in the Confederate defense line in Kentucky occurred and marked the beginning of Union operations leading across Tennessee and Mississippi.   In 1877, mill owner Lloyd Lanier and Arthur Rankin, skilled millwright, purchased the mill and all other included properties, then promptly erected the present 34 x 40 foot, three story mill which remains a magnificent sight to see.  From 1879 through 1907 mill owners and operators included Ike Lanier, J.M. Sallee, Robert Lanier, Dr. J.S. Jones, and I. D. Ruffner.  In 1885 the new firm J.S. Jones and Company modernized the mill by installing new machines and steel roller mills for milling flour. Bolan E. Roberts bought the mill in 1907 and operated it as "Diamond Roller Mills."  In 1908, the 28-foot cedar wheel was replaced by a steel water wheel.  Still in use the wheel is one of the largest overshot water wheels in the world.  The wheel has a diameter of 40 feet, 10 inches, and a breast of three feet. Powered by 13 natural springs located beside the mill, it is thought to be one of the largest of it's kind in the world. A 15 h.p. auxiliary crude oil engine was added in the 1920's to supplement power to the Mill Springs Mill during low flow. Thomas Roberts operated the mill under the name of the "Diamond Roller Mill" until 1949 when the federal government acquired the mill and lands as part of the Lake Cumberland project. In 1963 the Monticello Woman's Club and other civic organizations, with aid from the Kentucky Department of Highways, reactivated the mill.

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Reviewed by
Nashville District

  • 1 Review
  • 0 Helpful
September 12, 2014
Rated 5.0

Be sure to stop by the Saturday on Memorial Day Weekend for the annual Cornmeal Festival. You can tour the mill, visit the gift shop, enjoy crafts booths, listen to musical entertainment, and eat "Hoe" cakes and other fixings.

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by
susanpen

  • 1 Review
  • 0 Helpful
September 09, 2014
Rated 5.0

Beautiful, historic place to visit! Right on Lake Cumberland . You can visit by car or boat. Love the stone ground cornmeal that the gift shop sells!

1 person found this review helpful

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Mill Springs Mill

9135 Highway 1275 North
Monticello, Kentucky
42633 USA

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