The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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Heart of the Blue Ridge

Reed Creek Mill

By Dr. W. R. Chitwood © 1989

Issue: September, 1989

This grain mill, the only water powered one in the county [Wythe], is located on Reed Creek, just south of Wytheville, Virginia's corporate line on the old road to Ivanhoe. It is the third mill to have been built on this site. The first grist mill erected there was a part of a manufacturing complex built by Abraham B. and John B. Barrett in 1858. In addition to the grist mill, this firm also built an iron foundry, a machine shop and a wool carding mill at this place. During the Civil War the Barretts manufactured or remodeled guns for the Confederate States at the machine shop. The water power for these industries was supplied by a wooden dam twelve feet high. In November 1878, after the mill was flooded and the dam partially wrecked, an additional abutment and a wing dam were added. Three years later, a turbine wheel was installed in the grist mill which probably replaced an overshot wheel. About 1896 the firm ceased to operate the mills and foundry due to the retirement of John B. Barrett and apparently the buildings were demolished (no newspaper accounts of a fire).

Austin F. Stone of Marion, Virginia bought the mill site in 1902 and built a new twelve feet high concrete dam, a four story frame mill, a mill office and two dwellings. In addition to milling machinery he also installed a generator which supplied Wytheville with electricity for several years. A turbine wheel was used to transmit the power to both. The mill was known as the Wytheville Power Plant and Roller Mills and had the capacity to produce fifty barrels of flour a day, besides corn meal and buckwheat flour. In 1918, Austin F. Stone sold the mill to his brother, William F. Stone, who operated it with his sons until it was sold to T.J. Eades and sons in 1934. That same year the mill was destroyed by fire, but in 1936 the Eades' erected a third mill on the site, the one that exists today as the Reed Creek Mill. It has changed hands several times, but is now owned and operated by Herman A. Southers.