An Old Grist Mill
The Mill is located one mile south of Cherokee, North Carolina on the edge of the Cherokee Indian Reservation. The Mill was built in 1886 for Jewel Hayes by W J Savage Company of Knoxville, Tennessee. The original equipment stands historically in place from 122 years ago. Local Cherokees and area farmers built and framed the building according to the plans developed by Hayes and Savage. The three roller mills were kept hidden for nearly 70 years. They are now uncovered with all of the elegance and nostalgia of the roaring 1890's. The original grinding stones are in place and in working order. Heavy beams and saw mill timber frame out the 1886 room. At the back of the room, the old exterior clapboard is still partially in view. Old floors of the Mill are hard maple worn smooth with nail heads polished by thoushands of farmers and visitors. The stream that turned the 26 foot by 42 inch hand riveted wheel is Shoal Creek. The creek glides over solid, polished rock formations in fromt of the mill and flows into the Oconaluftee River in Cherokee.
The Cherokee played a significant role in the history of the Mill. Gen. Will Thomas, son of Drowning Bear, was a close neighbor and operated a trading post nearby. Many Cherokee worked and milled at this Historic Mill including former Cherokee Chiefs from the 1950's that brought corn in wagons to be ground.
The restoration of the Mill began in 2007 by Noel Blakely, part Cherokee, with help from many Cherokee carpenters and local residents. One of the original restorers, Moses Walkingstick works at the Mill to continue the on going restoration. Old stonework that was covered for decades by vines have now been uncovered. Relics that were discovered at the Mill are on display on the history board for all to enjoy.
The Old Mill 1886 has always been known as a local landmark. Many visitors came to the Mill as children. They have brought their children and now bring their grandchildren back to experience the Old Mill. Photographers have made the Mill one of Western North Carolina's most photographed landmarks.