One of the most popular attractions on the Blue Ridge Parkway is located only a mile north of Meadows of Dan at milepost 176.2 (U.S. Highway 58) on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Floyd County, Virginia. Mabry Mill was a working water and grist mill in the community until the 1920s, and was remodeled by the National Park Service. It now serves as the highlight of an easy Mountain Industries Trail, with live demonstrations of early mountain crafts. Unfortunately, the late afternoon we visited, there were no demonstrations being held, but we took a self-guided tour through the buildings around the restored mill and buildings representing rural Appalachian life; none were open to look inside.
Mabry Mill was built by Edwin Boston Mabry when he returned to Floyd County in 1903. Edwin Mabrey was one of the fifth generation of Mabrys to live in the same part of Virginia.It started as blacksmith and wheelwright shop, then became a sawmill. By 1905, it was in operation as a gristmill. By 1910, the front part of the mill was completed and included a lathe for turning out wheel hubs, a tongue and groove lathe, a planer and a jig-saw. Between 1905 and 1914, Mabry bought adjacent tracts of land to where the mill is today, mostly to acquire more water power.
The mill has been called one of the most photographed views in the U.S. The entire area is a major tourist attraction mainly for the picturesque views of the mill itself. A short trail around the mill connects historical exhibits about life in rural Virginia. The trail allows visitors to view the gristmill, sawmill, and blacksmith shop.During peak seasons, demonstrations of crafts are given by National Park Service volunteers at Mabry Mill.
Visitors can see live exhibits, a real mill and a working miller to demonstrate the milling process. The grounds of the mill include other interpretive media all designed to tell about mountain industry. The Matthews Cabin is an example of mountain architecture and workmanship and offers a look into the tanning and shoemaking crafts. There is also a whiskey still, a sorghum mill and a working blacksmith shop. Maybe on the next visit, we will be able to see some of these demonstrations.
Meanwhile, a fellow VA blogger, Diane, also recently visited the mill and captured some of the demonstrations and events in several post; check out her blog, Dish to see them.