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.
- 1.5 million gallons per day from bluff wall
- 1915 25-foot steel overshot wheel
The remnants of Turner Mill is where the now extinct town of Surprise, Missouri had its own post office from 1895 until 1925. In the early 1850s, G. W. Decker operated the original mill utilizing a wooden overshot wheel. In 1891, Jesse L. (Clay) Turner bought the mill. He refurbished the four story mill building, rebuilt the wheel, and added a system of belts, pulleys and drive shafts. The mill had various types of saws for lumber and also equipment for grinding wheat and corn. Turner abandoned the wooden wheel for a turbine which furnished power until 1915. Then the turbine was replaced with the 25-foot steel overshot wheel that is visible today. The wheel was hauled to the site in sections by oxen. Logs were brought to the mill by floating them down the Eleven Point River. Teams of Oxen hauled the logs out of the river and to the mill. At that time, roads were almost non-existent or in very poor condition.
50 miles From West Plains
(In inclement weather, a 4WD vehicle is recommended.) Take Highway 160 east toward Alton. In Alton, turn left on Highway 19 north. Go 11.5 and turn right on County Road 3152. Go 6 miles then turn right on County Road 3190 for another 2.6 miles to a small parking area. To find the wheel, take the trailhead just past the restrooms and follow that along the creek.
Make it a day Trip
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