One of my favorite places to go in my beloved Missouri is Dillard Mill. Officially named the Dillard Mill State Historic Site, it dates back to the 1850s. The mill that is currently on the property is actually a re-build, because the original mill was destroyed when it burned in 1895. This current mill, although it is quite old, is a working water powered gristmill.
How do I know so much about this beautiful old mill? It just happens to be one of my favorite childhood memories, and is located only a few miles from the house I grew up in. Dillard Mill continues to be a favorite haunt even into my middle adult years, and it is with great pleasure that I have taken my own children there.
Finding the mill is fairly easy. It is located directly off Highway 49 in the beautiful Mark Twain National Forest. The actual turn off from the highway is very clearly marked -- and even if you would miss the turn off, there is no way you could miss the huge bridge that spans the Huzzah River which powers the mill. If you ever have chance to go to Dillard Mill, you need to ensure that you wear sturdy walking shoes, as the property is not suitable for flimsy footwear such as sandals or heels.
The parking area is not directly adjacent to the mill. You do have to walk a bit. But once at the actual mill site, the views are simply beautiful. Very picturesque. The portion of the Huzzah that feeds the mill is sparkling and clear and very calming. You just have to experience it. Really. There are benches near the edge of the Huzzah that allow you to just breathe in the beauty of it all.
But this isn’t the only draw of the mill. I really recommend you take a tour of the mill if you decide to go. It is a red barn looking structure with a huge water wheel. Since it is a functioning mill, they really operate it during a tour. I have seen this several times and still find it all fascinating.
There is also a walking path through the property. It is actually about a 1 ? mile trail that winds through the tree rich land. I haven’t walked the trail in several years, but I remember it as quite lovely. There is obviously lots of the native Missouri foliage to look at as well as a smattering of native wild life. I have seen the usual small mammals and birds. My dad says that he has seen deer while on the trail. There are a few benches throughout the trail to rest if you get tired or just want to pause and take it all in. One note here is that you have to wade across the Huzzah to get to the trail. When I was younger, you had to walk across the top of the dam in order to get to the trail I was always afraid that I would fall off the dam and into the water.
There is a rather nice picnic area at Dillard Mill also. During the spring and fall, it is so nice along the edge of the Huzzah and under the canopy of trees. It is the best location I have ever been to for a picnic.
You should treat your self and visit Dillard Mill.
There is a tour fee, but I am not sure of current pricing. You can phone 573-244-3120 or email email@example.com for additional information.
One final note is that most of the area, including the mill, is not really wheel chair or stroller accessible. For this, it only gets four stars.