Once again in celebration of our anniversary, Tim and I decided to visit a mill site within driving distance of Springfield, MO. War Eagle Mill, just a few curvy, steep miles outside Rogers, Arkansas was our choice this past weekend. Built in 1832, this is the only operational mill still grinding grain for sale in Arkansas today. Of course, the mill has been rebuilt several times over the last 185 years, due to fires and flooding, so it’s not the original. The folks who rebuilt the mill in 1973 followed the original footprint for the new three story structure which sits alongside War Eagle Creek. The mill standing on the original site today was reconstructed for a fourth time with the mill machinery powered by an 18 ft. cypress waterwheel instead of a turbine.
Unlike Dillard Mill, one cannot get close to the machinery used to grind the flour and corn sold by the pound or in bulk by War Eagle’s store. The mill grinds corn, wheat, buckwheat, rye, barley and spelt into different flours and mixes which are all available through mail order service at www.WarEagleMill.com. There are also cereals, popcorn, syrups and biscuit mixes available as well. I bought unbleached whole wheat flour and yellow cornbread mix to try in my recipes at home. The second floor of the mill also boasts local artists’ work including photos and prints of the mill in different seasons. Situated in a huge valley between two turns of War Eagle Creek, the mill is incredibly photogenic along with the one lane iron bridge running alongside.
Several employees give informal and formal tours and are well versed in the area’s history; especially the history of the families involved in settling the area and bringing commerce to Rogers, Bentonville, and Springdale. The challenges the owners of the mill faced both in the past and today make a great story. The history is written on the walls and in the markers both low and high indicating rising flood waters and is well worth the time it takes to listen or read about it.
The Bean Palace, the mills restaurant, occupies the third floor. Once upon a time the menu consisted of beans and cornbread and not much else. Thankfully, the proprietor of the restaurant expanded the menu and the weekend breakfast buffet is a hit. The blue corn pancakes, spicy sausage, and hash brown casserole were all wonderful, though the brewed coffee and the sausage did not agree with my palate Saturday morning so I switched to soda. Though it’s a buffet the servers are attentive to your need for drinks and dish clearing as well as answering questions about the restaurant and mill. (Hint: tip them if you agree)
October is craft fair month in northern Arkansas, with over 125,000 people flooding into War Eagle Mill and the surrounding area. This coming weekend, October 19-22, is the area’s Black Friday, when everyone has an opportunity to get back into the black. With 350 vendors, you should be able to get some Christmas shopping done or at the very least have a good time walking around and checking out the latest in craft fair art. Everyone we spoke with is getting rested up for this big weekend, so if you decide to go, they are ready for you! As for Tim and I, we will take the slow times, the off season times and be content.