Saturday, June 11, 2016

Old Benbrook Mill on Piney Creek

Finding and learning about the mill sites in Izard County is probably the most fascinating thing I do as a member of the EIC Crew. This week, with the help of our friend, Pauletta, we got to visit one of the...if not THE most important mill sites in the county. People brought their grain to be ground into flour and their wool and cotton to be carded at this place from as far away as Fulton County and even from across the river in modern-day Stone County. It operated up until the 1880s having been built by Nathan Langston and soon after sold to Henry Benbrook. It's the site of one of the first post-offices in the county and was a real hub of activity for generations.
 Many of the timbers from this mill still exist as ruins in and along Piney Creek. There is, of course the remains of the mill dam retaining wall
stretching from bank to bank. Even many of the retaining wall planks remain! Also, there is an extensive grid of large square-hewn timbers forming the base of what must have been a deck supporting milling and/or carding equipment.
 John Quincy Wolf wrote about the mill in his "Life in the Leatherwoods:

 "When I was a boy, therre were three water-powered mills that I knew of. The first water-powered mill I ever saw was on Piney Creek about four miles east of Calico Rock. It ground both wheat and corn and had a large carding factory adjacent to it. It was the only mill within a large scope of the country and naturally enjoyed a large patronage, its clientele extending across White River into what is now Stone County. Patrons living on the south side of the river used to set a day sending to the mill. Half a dozen or more people would bring their corn and wheat to a central place and pile it into the wagon of one farmer who would ford the river and drive to the mill. He would frequently have to stay all night and two whole days waiting for the grain to be ground into flour.

 The mill in question was known as Benbrook's Mill. It was operated by Elbert Benbrook and was built before the Civil-War. It suspended operation about 1880. Mr. Benbrook was a good mechanic and a good miller who made good flour."

User S. Springfield at writes:

 "Caleb’s (Langston) sons built a mill on Piney Creek. They carried logs on their shoulders and built
it in six days. It was the first Mill in the County. This was an “undershot” water wheel with the water going under the wheel instead of over it because of the slow flow of the water. The mill would run for a short time, then they would have to wait until the water level rose again before they started up. It could grind a bushel of corn a day.Nathan Langston and Colonel Stuart each owned a half interest in the Mill. Nathan operated the Mill for six months then sold his interest to Henry Benbrook. Today, it is known as the "Old Benbrook Mill" Site.

It was wonderful to see this amazing historic site and I'm glad EIC has some photos of it as it looks today! Click images to enlarge.

No comments: