Homeschooled children get all the fun field trips, like visiting a +255 Year Old Still-in-Operation water powered mill. Sciple’s Mill just outside De Kalb, Mississippi is a hidden little treasure. We’ve lived in Mississippi for 11 years and this was the first I had heard of it.
However, it has apparently landed on the radar of more famous people. Mike Rowe once visited the mill to film a part of a Dirty Jobs episode. We didn’t know about that until we had arrived, so it was neat to hear the story.
Mr. Sciple – yes, that’s right, after 5 generations it is still a family owned operation – told us about the history of the mill, how it works and ground up some corn while we were there. It really is quite a fascinating thing to think that water turns a 1,600 pound stone and out comes cornmeal.
Opening the water house gate and moving a lever which opens the gates on the water turbine are all it takes to set things in motion. From there it’s up to you to keep up with the speed of the grinding, being vigilant to make sure it never, ever, runs out of whatever you are grinding, such as corn or wheat. If the material runs out the stones will rub together and ruin their surfaces.
The corn comes out of the grinder and passes through a diverted that sends the meal into 2 different bags. From there it is sifted and then bagged. We were sure to walk away with a few of our favorites – both cornmeal and grits!
Mr. Sciple told us that by the time the homeschool group arrived he normally has several local folks lined up to have their own products ground up. That, to me, is the sign of a still-operational mill. They aren’t just grinding up corn and wheat to sell, they are providing a service to the community. Pretty cool.
While there I asked about water availability. Surely the water running dry would shut them down, whether they wanted to be or not. Turns out they usually have the opposite problem – too much water. They even have marks going up the door jam showing the flood lines, like a parent measuring their child.
Only 1 water gate needs to be open to run the mill, but several others are there so more water can flow in the case of heavy and unrelenting rains. Still, at times, the whole property floods.
We certainly enjoyed visiting Sciple’s Water Mill and look forward to visiting again in the future!
Be sure to Subscribe to our YouTube Channel to see where else we take random field trips to. You never know where we’ll go next!