Corn dust floats in the air and glows in the sunlight from the window. The one room of the mill is filled with the roar of the waterwheel and the grindstone as they crunch the dried corn. The miller greets visitors from his rocking chair by the fireplace while his assistant bags fresh cornmeal. For over 150 years, a grist mill has been sitting on this site on Barker’s Creek nea rDillard, Georgia. Local children would bring a pillowcase full of corn to the mill on the way to school to have ground and pick it up on the way home that evening. The stones fell through the floor of the original mill in the 1930’s, and it was rebuilt a decade later by Mary Hambridge. Another restoration was done in 1988, but it has kept it’s rustic charm.
Lawrence Holden is the miller when he is not teaching art at the Hambridge Center, which owns the grist mill. He opens the mill to visitors on the first Saturday of each month from noon to 4pm. Lawrence moved here from Atlanta to paint his oil landscapes and run the mill part time. His assistant is Woody Malot, who also teaches botany and works in the herbarium which houses almost 2500 specimens and photographs of local plants.
Years ago, a small stone would have taken all day to grind one bushel of dry corn. The current mill can handle a bushel in 15 minutes.. On the wall is the miller’s rule: “If the motion be too great, then add a little feed and weight. But if the motion bee too slow, less feed and weight will let her go.” In a year’s time, the mill grinds about 2000 pounds of corn, 100 pounds of wheat, and 50 pounds of buckwheat. The mill offers white and yellow speckled grits and cornmeal for sale. The milling charge in 2005 was $10 an hour, or you can pay the miller’s toll of ¼ of the flour or grits you are having ground. Another humorous sign offer gold panning for a fee and “you can keep the gold and I’ll take every other ruby.” I recommend a visit during fall color season,
Directions: 441S to Dillard, GA; right on Betty’s Creek 4.75 miles; mill is on left. You can follow Betty’s Creek back to NC for a scenic ride.