Surrounded by nature, steeped in history and happily off the beaten path, War Eagle Mill rests in the scenic Ozark Mountains in northwest Arkansas
It's early morning at the War Eagle Mill near Rogers, in Benton County, Arkansas. By nature I'm not an early riser. But this morning I'd hoped to arrive a bit early to walk across the bridge, and along the river bank, to take a few photos of the natural scenic beauty. But fog settles overnight in the valleys of the Ozark Mountains. And the haze in War Eagle Valley adding a sense of bygone days.
There's been a mill on this site since 1832, when Sylvanus Blackburn ventured west from Hickman County, Tennessee into the valley near present-day Rogers, Arkansas. He built a home on the west side of today's War Eagle Creek, and a gristmill on the east bank of the creek, before sending for his bride, Catherine. Over time the couple had eight children.
Tragedy struck the mill in 1848 when heavy rains flooded the valley and washed the mill off its foundation carrying it downstream.
But the Blackburns rebuilt the mill.
War Eagle Mill would be destroyed two more times. In 1862, during the Civil War the mill was burned by confederate soldiers to keep it from falling into the hands of the Union Army. The mill burned again in 1924. Today the mill that you see was last rebuilt in 1973
War Eagle Mill is powered by an 18' foot cypress undershot water wheel. The force of the flowing water in War Eagle Creek turns the wheel when the water washes over the paddles at the bottom, which turns the mill's machinery. This causes the millstone to grind the grain into flour. War Eagle Mill is the last working gristmill in Arkansas. The mill is said to have the only working undershot water wheel in the nation.
Step inside the mill to find an abundance of organic foodstuffs including flours, meals, cereals, whole grain mixes, jams, jellies and preserves. There are bread mixes, soup starters and much more. Samples of jams, jellies and preserves are available for visitors to taste before buying.
Climb the stairs to the second floor gift shop to find all kinds of gift ideas. Browse the kitchen gadgets, pottery, candles, jewelry, and t-shirts. Among the most interesting items I found were the knives, hammered and shaped from railroad spikes.
If you arrive early for the cafe, you can sit down for a game of checkers. There's a checkerboard for visitors standing against the wall.
*War Eagle Mill and Gift Shop are open daily from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm.
The signature dish at the Bean Palace Cafe is beans and cornbread: pinto beans with ham hocks, and hot buttered homemade cornbread. Beans and cornbread served with sweet tea in a mason jar. Add warm cobbler topped with ice-cream for dessert. That's my idea of a southern meal.
*The Bean Palace Cafe is open 7-days a week. Lunch is served daily from 10:30 am to 4:00 pm. The cafe serves breakfast on Saturday and Sunday from 8:30 am to 10:30 am.
War Eagle Bridge
Adjoining the mill, a one-lane steel bridge crosses over War Eagle Creek. Built in 1907, the historic bridge was built by the Illinois Steel Bridge Company of Jacksonville, Illinois. This is the only Parker Truss bridge in northwest Arkansas. On November 19, 1985 the War Eagle Bridge was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
War Eagle Creek meanders through the scenic War Eagle Valley, past War Eagle Mill on the east side of the creek and under the historic War Eagle Bridge in Northwest Arkansas.
It's early morning in War Eagle Valley. The fog that settles in the valley overnight in the Ozarks hasn't yet lifted. Yet, already people are standing on the banks of War Eagle Creek and under the bridge fishing.
For fun, the mill is sponsoring a Fishing Derby over the weekend. Winning categories may include ugliest fish, largest or smallest fish.
But serious anglers fish the creek for catfish, perch, bass, and stream-running walleye.
Every year the mill hosts the enormous War Eagle Crafts Fair. This year the fair was held from Thursday, October 17th to Sunday, Oct. 20th, 2019.
If you love arts and crafts the War Eagle Crafts Fair is great. The fair is actually made up of three venues: the Sharp's Fair sets up in the field adjacent to the mill, War Eagle Vendors set up booths in the mill parking lot, and the War Eagle Fair is held on the west side of War Eagle Creek.
Crafts Fair Parking
Come early to get a parking space close to the fair. Parking is in a huge pasture on the west side of War Eagle Creek. Thousands visit the War Eagle Crafts Fair every year since it originated 65 years ago. Items to look for at the fair include:
The War Eagle Crafts Fair takes place in the fall, which is beautiful in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas. Crimson reds, burnt orange, and golden yellow paint the landscape.
But then, any time is a good time to visit War Eagle Mill.
Directions: *War Eagle Mill: The website lists turn by turn directions to the Mill.