Rocky Knob Campground
Blue Ridge Parkway, VA
Mabry Mill is a watermill located at milepost 176.2 of Blue Ridge Parkway in Floyd County, Virginia. A short trail around the mill connects historical exhibits about life in rural Virginia. The trail allows visitors to view the gristmill, sawmill, and blacksmith shop.
Mabry Mill was built by Edwin Boston Mabry (E.B. Mabry). E.B. Mabry returned to Floyd County in 1903 and began the construction of the mill. It was first a blacksmith and wheelwright shop, then became a sawmill. By 1905 it was in operation as a gristmill. By 1910 the front part of the mill was completed and included a lathe for turning out wheel hubs, a tongue and groove lathe, a planer and a jig-saw. Between 1905 and 1914 E.B. Mabry bought adjacent tracts of land, mostly for the purpose of acquiring more water power.
OUR EXPERIENCE AT THE MILL
Walking around, taking photos and looking at all of the exhibits was interesting, but talking to the rangers and the mill's caretaker was the highlight of Mabry Mill for us.
The rangers explained why the cabin's doorways were less than 6 feet tall. It wasn't because the Mabry's were short people, but because it helped keep the heat closer to the floor during the winters.
The mill's caretaker must have been in his early eighties and was proud to mention that he grew up not more than 5 miles down the road. He is the one who throws corn on the mill's floor and feeds no less than four chipmunks all year long. They scurry in, pack as much corn in the pouches of their mouth as possible and scurry back out. They are very fast and are extremely camera shy.
He also took time to explain to us what each attachment in the mill does and how they operate off of the same shaft of pulleys that is driven by the water wheel. Belts are attached to each devise and the pulley to power them one at a time. The whole time he was talking with us he was sweeping out the mill and keeping it in perfect show condition.
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