The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is opening Historic Mill Springs Mill May 6-7, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. eastern time each day on the shoreline of Lake Cumberland. The public is invited to learn, participate, and experience stone sharpening activities as Miller John Childers hones the grist stones used throughout the recreation season to grind corn into cornmeal.
“This is a great opportunity for visitors to tour this historic gristmill right here at Lake Cumberland,” said Park Ranger Codey Hensley.
The grainery building, operated and managed by the Monticello Women’s Club, is opening during this time with gifts and snacks available.
Mill Springs Mill is open to the public 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. eastern time each Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and holiday from May 19 through Sept. 17, with grindings taking place at 2 p.m. eastern. The mill is located at 9135 Highway 1275 North in Monticello, Kentucky, just down the hill from the Brown Lanier House.
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.
Bolen E. Roberts, a past owner of the mill, originally installed the 40-foot, 10-inch overshot waterwheel in 1908. The waterwheel is powered by 13 local springs that supply water that runs into a metal pipe flume to a gate that is opened and closed from the first floor of the mill. 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.
After the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers impounded Lake Cumberland in 1949, it acquired the mill and associated lands. The original grainery was renovated in 1962. In 1963 the Monticello Woman’s Club and other civic organizations, with aid from the Kentucky Department of Highways, reactivated the mill. In 1973 the mill was designated as a National Historic Site. In 1976, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completed a major restoration to the structure and grounds. Traditional tools and skills were used to render the mill as close to the original work as possible. The efforts of these volunteers help people to remember when the mill once operated and served the needs of the local agricultural community.
Mill Springs Mill is located on the shores of scenic Lake Cumberland and even has a boat dock that is accessible to boaters who want to visit. If driving, it is located off Kentucky Highway 90 between Burnside and Monticello, Kentucky. For those who visit the Resource Manager’s Office located at 855 Boat Dock Road in Somerset, Kentucky, there is a scaled model of Mill Springs Mill on display for people to see and learn about its history.
An old video is available at https://youtu.be/TV0xbb4xK5E that explains how the miller maintains, sharpens, and cares for the grist stones.