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Our History

In the early 1800's, a water-powered gristmill on the banks of the Little Pigeon River became one of the main hubs of activity in the small mountain community of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. In those days, the mill faithfully produced the meals and flours that were crucial for the day-to-day existence of the Smokies' early settlers. In fact, The Old Mill even furnished electricity for the town until 1935.

One of The Old Mill's most distinctive features is the giant water wheel that harnesses the flow of the Little Pigeon River. Inside the structure, an antiquated yet reliable system of shafts, belts, and pulleys still gets the job done, working to turn the 4600-pound stones and grain elevators.

Weighing one ton each, the massive flint granite stones, called French Buhrs, are only the second set ever used in The Old Mill's 178-year history. When they're in action, the stones convert grain into about 1000 pounds of product each day, six days a week. Resident millers then hand-fill, weigh and tie each bag of stone ground grain.

Products ground at The Old Mill are used in many of the dishes at The Old Mill Restaurant including biscuits, corn bread, pancakes, hush puppies, muffins, and grits. We also use our own grains for the homemade artisan style breads that are prepared each day at The Old Mill Pottery House Cafe & Grille.

The original door to The Old Mill is still in use today. When you pass by it, you will notice hundreds of tacks and nail heads, where notices for the community were posted. Whether it be a birth or death, a wedding or church revival; a notice was posted on the door for all to see. As time passed, other very important items began to be tacked up there. Most notably were the Declarations of War, followed by the lists of names of those who were going off to serve their community and country. Then sadly would be posted the names of those who would not be returning home from battle, having given the ultimate sacrifice for their country. The door is a daily reminder that The Old Mill was the hub of communication for this small farming community. 

The Old Mill also served as the town's first Post Office, was a knitting mill during the Civil War, produced electricity in the early 20th century, and was used to produce mattresses at one time; all while it still operated as a grist mill. Whatever the community needed, The Old Mill was happy to oblige.

The area's heritage is also being preserved through a variety of crafts that are practiced at the nearby shops of The Old Mill Square. Our Pigeon River Pottery has been home to pottery making for over 70 years, and the best of time-tested recipes are prepared by our confectioners (with decades of experience among them) in The Old Mill Candy Kitchen. The entire Square is a working tribute to the Smokies' pioneer days.

Today, The Old Mill is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and just as in the 19th century, it's still one of the most popular places in the Smokies and one of the most photographed mills in the country.