Saturday, December 31, 2016

Pigeon Forge TN - Old Mill

Spent the Christmas holidays in Pigeon Forge with my family and for lunch one day we went to the Old Mill Restaurant.  The Old Mill has two restaurants, a forging workshop, a pottery store (for pottery made on the premises) and of course the grist mill with everything from flour to grits offered in their country store.  After enjoying a delicious country lunch of fried catfish, okra, corn fritters, mashed potatoes and, corn chowder we looked around a little and found these educational displays (below) providing the history of the Old Mill area. The first was just outside the Old Mill Restaurant and and has two panes, one entitled "A Civil War Secret" and the second "Antebellum Tennessee: A State Divided". The former detailed the history of the Old Mill during the War for Southern Independence indicating that the Pigeon Forge area was occupied by Union forces thru a period of the War and that at one time uniforms were made in the facility as the mill owner (John Sevier Trotter) supported the North as apparently did most of the residents of Sevier with less than 5% supporting secession as they had no trade interests with the Northern industries/factories and no plantations which were affected by the changing Northern tax and trade policies which fueled the Southern states secession.  The son of the mill owner William Trotter actually fought as a Captain in the Union Army and survived the War but died in 1865 of disease.  The display provided further statistics such as the number of Tennesseans who fought for the Confederacy (approx 180,000) and the Union (approx 50,000) and that Tennessee was the last state to secede from the Union and join the Confederacy. More battles were fought in Tennessee than any other state except Virginia.

The second display was outside the country store and gave the history of the Old Mill which is on the National Register of Historic Places.  The Old Mill was part of a grant of land made to Mordecai Lewis in 1810 who served as a judge and coroner in Sevier County.  Following his death, his children built a mill on the river here in 1830.  Iron ore was also mined here and provided material for a forging operation.  The post office was located in the mill and it became the focal point for the area farmers to gather to share news.  In 1849 John Sevier Trotter bought the Mill and named in the Trotter Mill.  In 1859 a bridge was built across the Pigeon River and a number of homes were built along the river bank. During the War, uniforms were made for the occupying Union soldiers at the mill but leather shoes were also made for the Confederate Home Guard and a hospital was even set up on one floor of the mill to treat wounded from the battles.  In 1875 a huge flood wiped out the bridge and damaged the mill.  The mill was refitted as a flour mill in 1885 and a grain room built where the general store now stands before another flood caused damage in the community including destroying the bridge in 1920.  The mill and its wheel was used for electricity generation for the small community from 1921 thru 1933.

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