Written By: Shawn Dunnaway
Exploration Date: July 30, 2013
Weather: Sunny and 78°
Elevation: Around 2,200'
GPS: 35.520102, -83.309801
Heading through the Smokies one afternoon, my wife and I decided to stop in at Mingus Mill.
The mill is located just off US 441 (Newfound Gap Road) just north of the Oconaluftee Visitor's Center on the North Carolina side of the park.
Mingus Mill is a different kind of mill than what I had seen in the past. Water pressure from a square box rising about 15 feet (called a 'penstock') from the surface would feed down into a cast-iron turbine. The turbine would turn the grindstone with 11 horsepower.
The turbine powered other machinery in the building including a 'smut machine' which blew wheat grain free of debris. A bolting chest would separate ground wheat into grades by sifting it through fine to coarse bolts of cloth.
Mingus Mill operated for over 50 years beginning in 1886 and served the people who lived in the area. During the summertime, the mill is operated by park staff so folks can see it in action.
Mingus Mill is a great teaching tool to educate kids on how cornmeal and processed grains were produced 125 years ago. But not only that, it shows a small glimpse of life in the Smokies in a time before modern day conveniences.
I highly recommend taking a look at Mignus Mill. History buffs will undoubtedly enjoy the preserved mill, but I think everyone will find it an enjoyable experience.
Outside the mill
A large trough brought water to the mill
Water flows over the mill's trough
Inside the mill
Another look at the inside of the mill