Alley Mill & Spring by Tim Layton
In the heart of the Missouri Ozark's the 100 year old Alley Springs grist mill stands next to a beautiful turquoise spring that will be sure to put a smile on your face and lower your stress.
Inside the mill is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
The spring and mill are located six miles west of Eminence, Missouri, on State Highway 106.
Grist and timber mills, which once flourished, are remnants of a bygone era.
They stand as testimony to the culture and communities of rural America. These mills harnessed the power of water, particularly natural springs, to grind grain and cut timber in small communities throughout the United States.
If you visit the mill, be sure to post your pics on the Explore The Ozarks Facebook group.
Alley was home, farm, and school for people who lived here a century ago. Dances, baseball games, and roller-skating were all part of Alley’s busier days.
The first mill was built in 1868. A post office was established, named after a prominent local farming family, Alley. From that day to this, the area has been known as Alley Spring, Alley Mill, or just plain Alley.
The present building was constructed during 1893-1894 by George Washington McCaskill as a merchant mill. With a turbine rather than a water wheel, and with rollers rather than stone grist stones, it was considered to be very “high tech” for its day. It served the needs of the local community by processing the farmers’ grain. Originally unpainted, it was first painted white with green trim, then later the famous red color associated with Alley Mill today.
This site also had a post office, named Alley, after John Alley, a miller who worked there. As with most milling sites, it saw lots of life and recreation, as farmers and their families brought grain to be ground into flour. History records dances, roller skating and baseball games as ways to pass time while the grain processing occurred.
The mill has 3 floors and a basement. Visitors may not go into the basement, and this was the powerhouse of the former mill in all its glory, where elevators and conveyor belts whirred and snapped. On the first floor, operators dumped corn and wheat into bins and raised the harvest to chutes that sent the grain to milling machines. These machines ground the grain and sent it to yet another machine, where it was ground again, eventually ready for baking as flour.
On the 2nd floor, more sifting occurred. First, the mill used a silk screen bolter, which had a silk covered drum that spun in the middle of the machine. Flour entered the drum, then got forced out through the silk. You can see a horsehair brush on the machine that brushed flour off the silk. An auger then moved the flour into an exit chute.
Later, a swing sifter replaced this technology. It used cloth-covered wire mesh screen that sifted the flour into chutes below.
1880's STYLE SILVER GELATIN DRY PLATES
Based on the history of the mill, I decided to photograph the mill using handmade silver gelatin dry plate glass negatives in my 4x5 large format camera that are from the same late 19th century period when the mill was first built. The plates are developed in the darkroom under red safelight and then they can either be printed in the darkroom or a digital scan can be done to make a wide range of contemporary type prints.
ALLEY SPRING & MILL PHOTOGRAPHS
Alley Spring & Mill is a beautiful and peaceful place that the entire family can enjoy. Don't forget there are some nice hiking trails and you can also go inside the mill and take a tour during the spring through fall seasons. Inside the mill is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
If you visit the spring and mill, be sure to post your pics on the Explore The Ozarks Facebook group.