Tucked back in the hills of Crawford County, Missouri, along the Huzzah Creek sits a time capsule of days gone by-Dillard Mill. One of my husbands favorite things to do when we have a little drive time is visiting old mills in southern Missouri. Dillard Mill is a wonderful example of a real working mill as it would have been found in the late 1800’s.
Historically, the mills in our area were ransacked for metal when the world wars were raging in Europe. If your mill was not in operation, the machinery was taken, melted down and used to fuel the insatiable need for metal for aircraft, bombs, tanks, etc. Fortunately for us, Dillard Mill was in operation and so the machinery sits on site today, ready to delight us with this peek into the past of how something as common as wheat, coffee and corn was ground from raw material to usable flour and grounds. I don’t want to take away from the story of Dillard Mill, I only want to let you know, it’s the best mill tour I’ve been on so far and the most well preserved.
Last October, my husband Tim and I took a few days to explore some parts of Eastern Missouri we hadn’t been able to see yet and a coworker recommended this site for a good hike and of course, the mill itself. We were fortunate enough to be able to interact with the gentleman who actually cares for the machinery, not your usual tour guide. I quickly learned to shut my mouth and not interrupt with questions, or he quickly lost the thread of his story. And what a story; Dillard Mill has a unique and interesting history one of the best parts being that it was started by a woman and her brother. She was the miller, not him which is an interesting take on a male dominated vocation.
Be prepared for a short hike to the mill site from the parking lot, and be warned, the drive to the mill might make you think you are wandering down someone’s driveway about to be met with a coonhound and a shotgun. Following the directions on Google maps down Hwy 8 through Steelville (worth a look if you’ve got time), to Hwy 10 and then to Hwy 49 in Cherryville-the mill is located just south of Dillard on Dillard Mill Road. Also, there is a small fee for the full tour, but it’s worth it. Watch your head and keep your children close. This mill and its machinery was built before OSHA standards and safety regulations were put in place.
The Huzzah creek runs alongside the mill, originally running the equipment through the mill pond. There are hiking trails, picnic tables and benches throughout the facility. If it’s raining, you may want to wait to see this mill. The tour guide admitted to being stuck once when a flash flood came through and buried everything around the mill in feet of water. Though being in such a beautiful place, surrounded by sounds of the past, I’m sure he didn’t mind too much.