1830 to Mid 19th century: A water-powered gristmill was built on the banks of the what-was-to-be-called the Pigeon River, and soon became a hub of activity in this area of the Great Smoky Mountains. In those days, the mill faithfully ground the meals and flours that were crucial to the day-to-day existence in the mountains, and it soon became a gathering spot for settlers to trade news and goods.
Mid 19th to 20th century: Mountain residents used the door to the mill as a notice post; today you can see and feel the nail holes that riddle the door. Inside, on the third floor of the mill, wounded soldiers were housed during the Civil War, and women of the growing town made uniforms there for soldiers. The first Post Office of Pigeon Forge was attached to the mill where the General Store stands today. The water-powered Old Mill even furnished electricity for the town until 1935.
21st century: Today, the Old Mill is a working tribute to the pioneer days of the Great Smoky Mountains. The Old Mill is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is one of the most photographed mills in the country. Just as in the 19th century, it's still one of the most popular places in the Smokies.
The Old Mill, Then and Now: Like it did almost 200 years ago, the giant water wheel harnesses the flow of the Little Pigeon River to power the mill. 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 almost 200-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.