The Hodgson Mill towers over the natural beauty of Bryant Creek in Ozark County, Missouri.
This is the third mill to grace this spot. The site’s original mill was built in 1837. It was rebuilt in 1861, only to fall victim to the widespread destruction of the Civil War. The current mill dates from 1882, and was named after millwright Alva Hodgson. Hodgson’s mill stayed in continuous use until 1976, when production moved to a modern facility in nearby Gainesville.
The spring feeding Bryant Creek flows almost 3,000,000 gallons of water each day. This spring for many years was a center of industry, at one time powering a lumber mill, a clothing factory, and even a cotton gin. Before the Rural Electrification Administration provided a centralized power plant sometime in the 1930’s, the waters also generated electricity for the mill and the surrounding area. The water flows at a constant temperature of 58 degrees Fahrenheit, which made the spring – and mill – a year-round community center. This is a characteristic it shares with many other Missouri mills.
Now, the Hodgson Mill draws visitors as a scenic monument, and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. With stoic beauty, it stands guard over a small millpond, where native mosses and ferns thrive. The three-story mill is framed perfectly against a hill by verdant trees. This area is kept green and fertile by occasional flooding. Bryant Creek occasionally crests at the door on the top level of the mill.
On this day, my appreciation for the beauty of this classic Missouri mill was only partially offset by the typical heat and humidity of an Ozark summer, and the constant stings of mosquitoes on my ankles as I tried to get this shot. Still, the sheer poetic beauty of the mill – combined with the sense of history -gave me an overwhelming feeling I could only describe as “You sure are in Missouri, now.”