The Ozarks were tough frontier for the early settlers. Rugged terrain and dense woods made travel difficult. And, like all settlements, water was of the utmost importance. And thus, many of the early settlements exist on some of Arkansas's most prominent waterways as water was necessary for life, travel, and in some cases, power.
Thus is the case of War Eagle Mill. War Eagle Mill is an historic (ish) Grist mill that sits along War Eagle Creek in Benton County (near Rogers and Beaver Lake).
The mill history dates back to 1832. The first version of War Eagle mill was flooded by a heavy rain season in 1848. The second version of the mill was destroyed by Confederate Troops who burned the mill to the ground to prevent Union soldiers from using it in 1962 just prior to the Battle of Pea Ridge. The Mill was rebuilt after the war in 1865, but then burned down again in 1924.
The current mill was built in 1973, and was built to historic specifications based on the blue prints of the third mill. War Eagle Mill is the only working mill in Arkansas -- and though only 40 years old, visiting is like stepping back in time to the days when this would have been a major food provider for the region. You can read a more detailed version of the history here.
The mill consists of three floors - the first has demonstrations of the grist mill in action and includes many food products for purchase that are ground at the mill. The Second floor features a lot of arts and crafts for sale and the third floor features a restaurant. We ate breakfast at the restaurant and it featured mill-made biscuits and gravy, eggs, pancakes (made from a variety of different types of milled grains), hashbrown casserole, bacon and sausage -- and everything was quite tasty.
Outside the mill you can explore the mill grounds, walk across the narrow, one lane, historic bridge built in 1908, and enjoy watching the mill wheel and the small waterfall area along War Eagle Creek.
There are no hiking trails at the mill -- but there are many short and long trails at Hobbs State Park nearby.
We were fortunate to get the opportunity to see a waters snake that had caught a fish take his fresh catch UP the waterfall and enjoy his brunch on a sunny rock on the top of the falls.
To get to War Eagle Mill, take Highway 412 to Highway 303 (14 miles East of Springdale, and 13 miles west of Huntsville) and turn NORTH onto Highway 303. War Eagle Mill is 8 miles down Highway 303 -- and you'll know you're there when you cross the narrow bridge.
This is a great place to spend the day for families, or to stop in while visiting nearby Hobbs State Park.