Grinding Days - Oconaluftee Visitor Center & Museum - Cherokee, NC
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member YoSam.
N 35° 30.791 W 083° 18.374
17S E 290856 N 3932401
Quick Description: How and why the grain becomes food, and feed.
Location: North Carolina, United States
Date Posted: 2/25/2019 6:13:17 AM
Waymark Code: WM104KZ
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Outspoken1
Views: 0

Long Description:

County of center: Swain County
Location of center: Newfound Gap Rd (US-441), 2 miles N. of Cherokee
Phone: 828-497-1904
Sign erected by: National Park Service
Date erected: 2011

Marker Text: Grinding Days
Why were there so many gristmills in the Smokies? Corn Corn was the most important crop there. It grew well and was a staple in the local diet. Water power was also easy to find. Nearly every river hand stream had a water-powered gristmill to grind corn into meal. Some mills also ground wheat. Many families purchased flour and saved it for Sundays and special occasions.

For every bushel of grain, a gallon (one-eighth) was left in a large toll box.

Larger mills served another function. People would gather to visit with each other while waiting for their corn to be ground.


Photo Captions - [left to right, up to down]:

Mangus Mill, completed in 1886, was the largest mill in the Smokies. A water-powered, metal water turbine ran the mill instead of the traditional wooden waterwheel. It could grind more tan 350 pounds (6 bushels) of corn an hour.


John Cable was a farmer who milled part-time. His mill could produce 150 pounds (3 bushels) of meal an hour, The creek also powered a small sawmill.

Cable Mill, built in the early 1870s, was powered by an overshot wooden waterwheel.


Tub mills were found on small waterways throughout the Smokies. They were able to use water from shallow, fast-flowing streams to power a horizonal waterwheel. Tub mills could produce about a bushel of meal a day.


Pounding mills used water power to crush the grain with a large hammer. Cherokee used a similar motion to pound corn by hand.


Even small, rough-cut, tub mills needed specialists to make the mill stones. The stones were usually sharpened by hand each year.

Mill stones for grinding corn were cut from local granite. Some mills used imported quartz to make wheat millstones because quartz kept an edge longer. Feel the grooves and lands (raised strips) on this granite millstone.

Group that erected the marker: National Park Serve, Department of the Interior

URL of a web site with more information about the history mentioned on the sign: [Web Link]

Address of where the marker is located. Approximate if necessary:
1194 Newfound Gap Hwy., Cherokee, NC 28719-8249


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