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In a previous post I talked about several old town squares in the heart of Northwest Arkansas, and I concluded with the Rogers Historic District and Scenic Highway 12. That’s where I begin this post.

Scenic Highway 12 in Northwest Arkansas passes through Rogers Arkansas and then through some truly beautiful Ozark countryside. Just the scenery makes this road a good choice for those heading east to destinations like Eureka Springs and the Buffalo River. As you drive out of Rogers you pass through the beautiful country surrounding Beaver Lake. The views of the lake are at time dramatic. Beaver Lake is huge and if you’re a water sports person or have a boat or personal water craft, this is a lake worth researching.

As you push on a little further the road starts winding as it climbs through the Ozark Mountains. Again, the views are beautiful. For a while you are passing through the Hobbs State Park Conservation Area. The area is so inviting that I stopped to walk the Historic Van Winkle Trail. Not much of a hike but plenty of fun and a great way to spend a little more time in the area.

The War Eagle Mill is just a bit out of the park on War Eagle Road. This is an interesting place, and well worth a stop to see. It’s a working water powered grist mill, the forth mill built at this location, on the War Eagle River.

The first mill was built in the 1830’s by Sylvanus Blackburn, but washed away in 1848. The second mill was burned by order of a Confederate general to prevent the Union Army’s capture and use of the mill. James A.C. Blackburn, son of Sylvanus, reconstructed a third mill in 1873. The current mill was built in 1973 by Jewell A. and Leta Medlin and Zoe Medlin Caywood on the original site and foundation and is intended to be an authentic reproduction of the 1873 mill.

Reproduction or not this is a very realistic example of an old grist mill. The power for the stone buhr grinders inside the War Eagle mill comes from an 18-foot undershot waterwheel driven by the waters of the War Eagle River. I’d been through mills like this before, but never had I seen one work before. When the belts are turning and the grinder is grinding and the flower is flowing into the bag, the experience comes alive. Forget your imagination, this place really works.

They sell flowers and meals ground on site along with other crafts and souvenirs. On the top floor of the mill there’s the Bean Palace Restaurant where they serve foods authentic to the region and time of the earlier mills.

The War Eagle Mill and its surroundings are interesting. The area is beautiful. There’s an old metal bridge across the War Eagle River in front of the mill. You can walk along the banks of the river for an alternative perspective and a better view of the undershot water wheel.

War Eagle is a ghost town and you may find other items of interest. I hope you enjoy the War Eagle Mill.

After seeing all the mill has to offer it’s back on Scenic Highway 12 heading east, and you needing to choose between several great destinations. Head north on Highway 23 and end up in Eureka Springs. Or, head off south on Highway 23, travel the back roads for more beautiful cruising time and end up in Lost Valley. Here you find yourself at the furthest western reaches of the Buffalo National River (U.S. Nation Park Service). As the name implies, the river is the attraction, but the rugged natural beauty of the area is equally spectacular. Anyway you go, it’s a great ride.

War Eagle Arkansas

County: Benton

Copyright © 2008 by Sam Fenstermacher
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