Historic Places - Pigeon Forge Mill


Sevier County, Tennessee was established September 18, 1794 and covers about 6,000 square miles.  There are three distinct regions in Sevier County, Appalachian Mountain region to the north, Foothills region in the central portion, and the Great Valley of East Tennessee, which stretches 9,200 square miles across Virginia, Georgia, and Tennessee.

Since the counties establishment, the county seat has been situated at Sevierville, the eighth oldest city in Tennessee.  As with an old county throughout the world, their is always historic buildings and places that still remain today.  Sevier County is no exception.  There are many historic buildings that make up part of the history of Sevier County that are still standing today.  Some of these buildings/places have made their way to the United States National Registry of Historic Places.  Because their are so many important buildings/places within Sevier County it is near impossible to hit on all of these in one sitting.  We will choose one place of significance each month to discuss.

This month's historic place is The Pigeon Forge Mill.  

The Pigeon Forge Mill, most commonly known as the Old Mill, is a historic gristmill in Pigeon Forge, TN.  The Pigeon Forge Mill is along the Little Pigeon River, and currently consists of a mill house, breast shot wheel, and milldam, which are all in operation today.  The mill is the only structure in Pigeon Forge, TN on the National Registry of Historic Places.


Pigeon Forge Mill is now a souvenir shop and restaurant but was once part of small industrial complex established by local business man Isaac Love in 1830, which included the iron forge for which the city was name.  The mill was originally used to grind grain for local farms.  During the Civil War, the mill powered several looms which produced cloth for the military.  In the early 1900's, a generator was installed at the mill which provided electricity for the area until 1930.  When the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was established in 1934, Pigeon Forge slowly began to evolve into tourist town, where the mill became a popular passing stop for tourist.  

The Pigeon Forge Mill is a three-story structure supported by 14-foot by 14-foot yellow poplar logs, which in turn rest on several pillars of large river rock, which are now reinforced by concrete. These pillars have helped preserve the mill through several disastrous floods, most notably floods in 1875 and 1920, both of which washed away bridges at the mill site. The interior of the mill consists of hand-hewn hemlock and oak walls, held together by hickory pegs, and the mill house's exterior walls have been weather boarded with yellow poplar boards. The floor consists of nailed pine boards. The elongated section on the north side of the mill house was built in the latter half of the 19th century to house the mill's new sawmill.

The Pigeon Forge Mill makes use of both the 24-foot wheel that characterizes its exterior and several smaller tub wheels. Water is diverted to the wheels via the milldam, which spans the length of the river. The mill uses 2 two-ton French burr millstones for grinding.

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