Rushing water was the power that turned grain into flour and timber into lumber at the many historic mills that you can visit around West Plains. Some mills provide an interpretive history about life in the 1800s, while others simply provide a place to walk, take photos, or just enjoy the beauty and history of the Ozarks.
- Constructed in 1897
- 28 million gallons per day
Hodgson Mill was built in 1861 by William Holeman at the base of the cliff where Hodgson Spring discharges. The spring produces 28 million gallons of water per day. The mill closed during the Civic War and it is unclear whether Holeman reopened the mill or had to build a new one after the war. Holeman operated the mill until his death in 1879.
In 1884, the mill was purchased for $500 by Alva Hodgson and his mother, Mary. Hodgson upgraded the machinery which made the mill capable of producing a higher quality “white” flour.
At the time, the mill building housed a general store, the Sycamore Post Office, sawmill, and cotton gin. Farmers visited the mill to have their grain (corn and wheat) ground into flour or meal.
A new mill was completed around 1897. This is the structure that stands today. Alva Hodgson’s brother, George, bought 1/3 interest in the mill and by 1901, had purchased the mill entirely from his brother. Alva Hodgson went on to build nearby Dawt Mill, completed in 1909. Alva died in 1921 and George continued to operate the mill until his death in 1927.
Ownership of the mill passed to Fred O. Foster from 1927-1934. In 1934, the mill was purchased by businessman Charles Theodore Aid. The mill remained in the Aid family until 1998.
From 1934 to 1998, several different people leased the mill and had various business ventures. In 1949, Fred Leach operated the mill increasing the production volume to as much as 2,000 pounds of flour per day. From 1963 to 1969, the Harold Stott family took over operation and expanded the line of products to include white and yellow cornmeal, whole wheat cereal, bran, and pancake flours.
In 1969, Ken and Teena Harrington took over the lease and began selling antiques and operating canoe rentals for the nearby Bryant Creek. They also offered flour and products in their store and incorporated the company as Hodgson Mill, Inc. In 1969, when the Harringtons took over the lease, the mill was grinding only a couple hundred pounds of flour per day. By 1973, sales had grown 500 percent, and the old mill was straining under the maximum of 1 million pounds of wheat and corn per year.
In 1976, to keep up with demand, the Harringtons moved production to a modern facility in Gainesville. No large-scale production has taken place at Hodgson Mill since.
The mill suffered flood damage in 1982 when water rose into the main milling room.
Between 1985 and 1993, Herbert Smith (great-nephew of Alva Hodgson) and his wife leased the mill and provided tours, a store, resort cabins and campground.
The mill was sold to Hank and Jean Macler in 1998 and registered the mill in the National Register of Historic Places.
In 2011, the mill was sold to John and Gwen Deakle.
29 miles From West Plains
From Hwy 63 take CC Highway west for 21 miles. At Highway 181, turn left. In 2.75, stay on Highway 181 by turning right at the Junction of H Highway. Stay on 181 and in 4 miles, Hodgson Mill will be on your left.
Make it a day Trip
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