I’ll grab my blanket and hot chocolate and tell you about another interesting landmark in Arkansas.
First of all, several well-known entrepreneurs have emerged from the Northwest Arkansas area. We are known as the home and headquarters of Wal-Mart (founded in 1962), Tyson’s Foods (1935), and J.B. Hunt Transport (1961).
And, although these folks were pioneers in their day, in 1832 a seventeen year old boy named Sylvanus Blackburn proved to be the ultimate entrepreneur. It was then he brought his new wife Catherine from Tennessee to the beautiful War Eagle Valley to start their new life together.
Together they built a house on the hill above the War Eagle River. The house still stands today.
They quickly discovered the fertile bottomland by the river was excellent for growing corn. The nearest grist mill, however, was 25 miles away. So, with the help of many workers, a new mill was constructed.
Unfortunately, in 1848, a flood sent the first mill down the river.
Not to be defeated, the Blackburn’s rebuilt the mill along with a sawmill addition.
The Civil War also wrought havoc on the mill. In 1862, the Confederate Army overtook the mill from the Union army. The Confederates only occupied the mill two days when their general deemed their position unstable and had the mill burned to the ground. When the Blackburn’s returned in 1865, they found their home still standing, but no business.
Talk about never giving up! The mill was, yet again, rebuilt and opened in 1873. Improvements were made and once again the mill was very successful. In 1890, both Sylvanus and Catherine died. The mill continued in operation until 1924 when another fire destroyed the mill.
The property sat empty for decades. In 1973, the Medlin family bought the mill property. They searched and located the blueprints of the third mill and rebuilt for the fourth time.
I told you all of that to tell you this. The War Eagle Mill is still in operation today and is as beautiful as ever. I am amazed how the diversity of life and years has accumulated on these grounds and how a mill built over 180 years ago can still serve a community today.
One of the amazing features of the mill is the undershot waterwheel. This waterwheel design is believed to be the only one in operation in the United States.
They are still grinding corn. Every day. Yummy, non GMO corn. I buy it in bulk.
You can also buy a variety of other products
Even the one-lane bridge to get to the mill is historic and used by many to get across the river.
By the way, you can see through those boards to the river. …gulp…
The second floor of the mill houses a gift shop
and the third floor is home to a restaurant called the Bean Palace where the specialty is brown beans and the freshest cornbread around.
So, when a little glitch in the weather gets me down, I need to think about all the hardships this family endured to keep their business and community alive.
Let’s just say it gives me some perspective.
I’ll replant those marigolds next week.