Scenic USA - Arkansas

War Eagle Mill

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War Eagle Mill - Arkansas

Photo by Ben Prepelka
Scenic USA Artist Website

   Behind this beautiful reflective scene at War Eagle Mill is a long history of human persistence, tenacity and personal tribulations. Although the mill burned to the foundation in 1924, today's War Eagle Mill is an authentic reproduction of the 1872 Blackburn family mill. You'll find the only change from the 19th century blueprints is a traditional 18 foot cypress undershot wheel, replicating the one used over a century ago at this site.
   Married at age 16, Sylvanus and Catherine Blackburn lived with his parents in Tennessee. Caught up in the excitement of western settlement the following year, Sylvanus left Catherine in Tennessee to search for the perfect home site. Choosing War Eagle Valley, the couple returned to build a house overlooking War Eagle Creek. With success in farming the fertile Arkansas bottomlands, the Blackburns soon discovered the nearest gristmill was over a day's journey away. Seeing the potential of their War Eagle setting, the couple established a successful milling operation and a popular meeting place for a growing community. By the time the Blackburn family added nine more mouths to feed, a raging War Eagle Creek completely washed away the family business. Without many options, Sylvanus rebuilt the mill, adding a lumber operation as well. Caught in the midst of the Civil War a decade later, the Blackburns thought it best to retreat from harmís way to Texas. Upon their return in 1865, they found their mill and the entire communities of Fayetteville and Bentonville lying in ruins. Defeated at Pea Ridge and chased southward by the Union Army, retreating Confederates were forced to burn these key cities. Feeling his age, it would be Sylvanus' son, James A.C. Blackburn's opportunity to resurrect the grist mill and sawmill. Helping to rebuild the northwestern section of the state after the war, the Blackburn family became the known as the Arkansas Lumber Kings.
   Today, the War Eagle Mill continues the milling tradition, selling quality organic products. The mill store also offers gift box samplers, which include flour mixes, preserves, jellies, syrups and a wide variety of tempting treats.
   While touring the mill and grounds, visitors canít help but notice the War Eagle Bridge. Built in 1907 by the Illinois Steel Bridge Company, the 182 foot span is one of six bridges to utilize the Parker Through Truss design. Restored in 2010, the steel bridgeís authentic wooden decking still creates an entertaining and historic drive over War Eagle Creek. As you may guess, the mill, bridge and surrounding Ozark scenery help create a wonderful northwestern Arkansas travel destination.

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