War Eagle Mill in eastern Benton County, Arkansas, has been in operation, off and on for 170 years ! Originally built ca. 1838 by Sylvanus Blackburn, the first mill was washed away in the big flood of 1848. Mr. Blackburn promptly rebuilt though, and his second mill survived until the coming of the Civil War. In February of 1862, despite Blackburn being a good southern sympathizer, with 5 sons in the Confederate Army, Confederate Troops in the Army of Texan Ben McCulloch burned the mill. It was deemed a military necessity, in order to prevent it's future use by Union Troops. Seven years later, in 1873, James Austin Cameron Blackburn, Sylvanus' youngest son rebuilt the mill for a third time. JAC as he was known, was a smart businessman whose holdings grew and grew. In 1924, the mill again burned down. This time it was an accidental fire, grain dust being quite flammable or even combustible. In 1973, the present building was contructed by Zoe Caywood and family, on the original foundations, using the original raceway for the wheel, and what was left of the old dam. Vintage photos of the 1873 mill were used to make this one an almost exact replica of that version. In 2004, Marty & Elise Roenigk, of Eureka Springs, Arkansas, purchased the War Eagle Mill, and it is still in operation today. Matter of fact, it is the Only operational water-powered Grist Mill, left in the State of Arkansas !
Thousands of pounds of organic, whole grain products are milled and sold annually, with a larger variety than you might think. I can personally attest, it is some tasty stuff, that will remind you of the biscuits, cornbread, and grits Grandma used to make ! You can check out their current line of products at the website, www.wareaglemill.com .
What remains of the old mill dam, in War Eagle River. It still provides water to power the Grist Mill today !
The eighteen foot diameter water wheel is hard at work in this image. I can tell you that the friendly and knowledgable Miller inside is also hard at work !
Double tombstone of War Eagle Mill's original builders, Sylvanus & Catharine Blackburn. Notice their death dates are only 5 days apart. When Catharine died, Sylvanus told his sons, she was the love of his life, and he could not go on without her. Instructed them to leave the grave open. He then prayed and fasted for five days before dying himself !
Tombstone of JCS Blackburn, also in the War Eagle Cemetery. JCS or James was the son of Sylvanus & Catharine, and brother of JAC. A Confederate Soldier, he was murdered while visiting his wife at home near the mill, in 1863.
In this image you can also see the Steel Span Bridge, built in 1908, and allowing traffic to discontinue using the old ford just downstream. War Eagle Mill area is definitely worth a visit if in the Rogers, Arkansas, area.