1798 Rice Grist Mill Lake City TN

1798 Rice Grist Mill Lake City TN

The1798 Rice Grist Mill Lake City TN

Rice Grist Mill Lake City TN. This 18th Century Rice Grist Mill was originally constructed in 1798 in Union County. The mill was later dismantled and rebuilt on Clear Creek in 1935, where it sits today.

The mill is a two-story log structure with a wooden water wheel. Water is channeled from the top of the wheel and pours over allowing the wheel to turn.


Why So Many Mills?

Back in the day this area was extremely isolated and there were no grocery stores to visit.

Exploring the old mill in Cades Cove Area in the rain.

People who lived in the valley grew their own crops or bartered for items that they needed or didn’t produce themselves.

Steps going up to grist mill

Grain Mills Were Important

Grain mills were an important part of being able to grind grains like corn, wheat  and rice into flour for making bread. The mills provided the service to the farmers of the area.  In exchange the mill received  a percentage of the crop that they were grinding. The percentage that the mill received was called the miller’s toll.

Flowing water to grist mill

Location Location

Most mills were built and supported by farming communities so that local farmers could easily transport their grain there to be milled.

Large wooden paddle wheel that is water powered to help grind grains.

Why Use Wooden Paddles?

Water mills have large wooden paddles to move and grind the grain  This simple arrangement required no gears, but has a disadvantage. The speed rotation of the paddle is dependent on the volume and flow of water that is available.  Therefore, only it is on suitable for use in mountainous regions with fast-flowing streams.

Fast moving water helped to grind grains at old mills.
Spring view after the snow melt and heavy rains set in. You can see how fast that water is flowing.

Caleb Crosby Threshing Barn

Large barns provided shelter for the grinded grain and for the oxen and horse teams that powered the mills.

Large barn on grist mill site.

The Caleb Crosby Threshing Barn stood for about 100 years along the north side of the Holston River. The threshing barn was dismantled and donated to the National Park Service during the building of the Cherokee Dam.   The barn sat for 34 years. 

In 1978, the barn was reconstructed downstream from Rice Grist Mill in Norris Dam State Park, TN.


Enjoy grist mills?  Check out the one in Cades Cove and on the Crystal River in Wisconsin.

Other Power Sources

Many of the mills used teams of oxen and horses to run the threshing machines.  

Some grist mills used horses to help grind grains into flour.
Oxen were attached here to help grind grain.

If you enjoy enjoy history and poking around, this is a fun stop.  A wonderful example of why we restore historic buildings. 

Until next time my friends, take care.