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What kind of mill was the old mill?

The Old Mill, located in North Little Rock, Arkansas, is a beautiful and iconic landmark that is considered to be one of the oldest continually operating gristmills in the country. It is also one of the most photographed mills in America and has been designated as a historic site by both the Arkansas Historical Society and the National Register of Historic Places. But what kind of mill is the Old Mill, and what is its history? In this blog post, we’ll explore the story of the Old Mill and discover the answer to these questions.

The History of the Old Mill

The Old Mill was built in 1933 by Justin Matthews, a prominent businessman and philanthropist in the North Little Rock community. Matthews was inspired to create the mill after visiting a similar mill in the Ozark Mountains and realizing the potential for a similar attraction in his hometown. He chose a picturesque location on the banks of Crystal Lake, which was already an established park, and began construction on the mill.

The exterior of the Old Mill is modeled after traditional Dutch windmills, with a towering wooden structure and four blades that turn in the wind. Matthews hired renowned sculptor Dionicio Rodriguez to create the intricate carvings and reliefs that adorn the walls of the mill, including a beautiful water wheel and a pair of giant, carved stone turtles.

The Old Mill was originally intended as a tourist attraction, with visitors coming from all over the state to see the historic mill in action. The mill was fully operational and produced flour and cornmeal for several years, but eventually, the cost of production became too high, and it was no longer profitable to continue operating the mill. The mill was shuttered, and it wasn’t until the 1970s that the mill was again put into operation, this time as a setting for films and television shows.

Today, the Old Mill is open to visitors and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Arkansas. The mill still operates and produces small batches of cornmeal, which visitors can purchase in the mill gift shop. The Old Mill is also a popular spot for weddings and special events, with the picturesque setting and historic charm attracting visitors from all over the world.

What Kind of Mill is the Old Mill?

So, what kind of mill is the Old Mill? As mentioned earlier, the Old Mill is a gristmill, which is a type of mill that grinds grain into flour or meal. The word “grist” refers to grain that has been ground or is being ground, and a gristmill is specifically designed for this purpose. In the case of the Old Mill, the millstones inside the mill were used to grind corn into cornmeal and wheat into flour.

Gristmills have a long history, dating back to ancient times when grain was ground by hand using a mortar and pestle. The invention of water-powered mills in ancient Greece and Rome revolutionized the process of grinding grain, and by the Middle Ages, water-powered mills were common throughout Europe. In America, gristmills were an important part of the early economy, with many communities having their own local mill to produce flour and cornmeal.

While most gristmills today are powered by electricity or gasoline engines, the Old Mill still operates using the same water power that it has used since it was constructed. The mill is powered by a waterfall from the nearby lake, which turns the large water wheel and powers the millstones inside the mill.


The Old Mill is a fascinating and beautiful landmark that has a rich history and has played an important role in the North Little Rock community for almost a century. As one of the oldest continually operating gristmills in the country, the Old Mill has a unique place in American history and is a testament to the ingenuity and innovation of early millers. Whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover, or a fan of classic cinema, a visit to the Old Mill is a must-see destination. So, the next time you’re in the area, be sure to stop by and experience the magic of this incredible landmark firsthand.


What is an old mill?

An old mill refers to a historically significant building that was used for grinding grains into flour. It was the main center of activity for local farmers who would bring their grains to be processed. These mills were equipped with large machines powered by water, wind, or other mechanical force. The machines would grind the grains into flour which could then be sold or used for personal consumption. Old mills were very important during the Middle Ages as they played a vital role in ensuring that people had access to flour for making bread. Today, many of these mills have been restored and preserved as historical sites and some of them have even been converted into museums or upscale restaurants. Additionally, the term “mill” can also refer to a factory that processes raw materials such as a lumber mill or steel mill. These types of mills are still operating in some parts of the world and are an important part of the local economy. an old mill represents an important part of our historical and cultural heritage and reminds us of the ways in which our ancestors worked to provide necessities for their communities.

How did an old mill work?

Historically, mills played a significant role in human development, as they were the primary method of processing grains and other raw materials into usable products. An old mill was a complex mechanical system that utilized water or wind power to grind grains, and its functioning was crucial to local economies across time and geographical locations. In this answer, we will discuss the architecture, machinery, and operations of an old mill to understand how it worked.

The architecture of an old mill was generally similar across various cultures and regions. The essential components of the mill included a building to house the machinery, a waterwheel or windmill to provide power, and a canal or sluice to control the water supply. The building housing the machinery usually comprised multiple stories, as the vertical height was necessary to transfer the raw material from one level to another. The top floor of the building was often used to store raw materials, while the lower floors contained the machinery.

The machinery of an old mill was essentially composed of two massive circular stones that had a diameter of about five to eight feet. The two stones were known as the runner stone and the bedstone, with the former situated directly above the latter. Grain was fed through a hole in the center of the runner stone, called the ‘eye’, and then ground between the two stones. The runner stone was rotated by an axle passing through its center, which was connected to the waterwheel or windmill. The bedstone was stationary and fixed to the floor of the mill.

Each stone face was cut with a pattern of grooves called furrows, which had varying sizes and depths, depending on the desired result. These furrows’ function was to cut and grind the grain into flour or meal while also allowing the powdered end result to escape the gap between the two stones. The furrows on the runner stone cut through the grain, while those on the bedstone acted as a bed for the grain.

The operations of the mill began with the raw material, usually grains such as wheat, being loaded into an elevator that lifted it to the top floor of the mill. From there, the grain was fed through a chute into the eye of the rotating runner stone. The runner stone’s speed was adjusted by a lever or brake system to increase or decrease the output required. The crushed grains were sieved through screens that varied in size, with fine material referred to as flour, while coarse material identified as meal. After sieving, the final product would fall into a bin located on the lower floor and ready to be packed. At this point, the miller would repeat the process with a new batch of grains.

An old mill was a complex system that required attention to detail, knowledge of machinery, and the expertise to process raw materials into usable products efficiently. the mills played a vital role in human society, enabling communities to access affordable, reliable, and accessible food sources.

What is the old mill made out of?

The Old Mill is a historical landmark that was built in 1835 by millwrights, Paul and James Lockyer. This circular structure has become an iconic part of the community and a popular tourist attraction. It was operated by miller, William Rolf Steel, in partnership with William Shenton, during its heyday.

The Old Mill is made primarily out of stone, which is a traditional building material for mills of this era. The stones used in the construction were carefully crafted and placed together to form a solid and sturdy structure. Additionally, the building was plastered and lime-washed, which not only gave it a crisp white appearance but also helped to protect and preserve the stones.

It is not just the physical materials that make up the Old Mill that are impressive, but also the engineering and mechanical systems that were used to operate it. The mill was designed to use wind power to grind grains and other materials into flour. This was accomplished through large sails that were mounted on the building’s rooftop and which caught the wind to turn the giant grinding stones below.

The Old Mill is a unique and historical structure that is primarily constructed from stone, with additional plaster and lime-wash to protect the stones. The building was designed to use wind power to grind grains, which was accomplished using large sails mounted on the rooftop.

What are the different types of grinding mills?

Grinding mills are essential equipment in the mining, processing, and manufacturing industries as they are used to reduce the size of materials before they are used for further processing. There are various types of grinding mills available, each designed to meet specific needs, abilities, and requirements. Grinding mills can be categorized into three groups, namely, tumbling mills, roller mills, and very fine grinding mills, which include high speed pulverizing or hammer mill, vibrating mill, pin mill, turbo mill, fluid energy mill, and stirred media mill.

Tumbling mills are one of the most common types of grinding mills and are composed of a cylindrical and conical shell filled with grinding media such as balls or rods. The grinding media and the materials to be ground are rotated by a central shaft, causing the grinding media to impact and grind the materials.

Roller mills consist of a pair of counter-rotating rollers that are required to crush and grind materials. The rollers are made of steel or ceramics, and the gap between them can be adjusted to control the size of the resulting particle.

Very fine grinding mills are used for high-level processing and are often used to produce powders with particle sizes of a few microns or less. These mills work by using a combination of impact and abrasion to reduce the size of particles. Some common types of very fine grinding mills include high-speed pulverizing or hammer mill, vibrating mill, pin mill, turbo mill, fluid energy mill, and stirred media mill.

High-speed pulverizing or hammer mills use a rotating shaft that is fitted with several hammers which strike the materials and reduce them into smaller particles. The vibrating mill consists of a conical chamber with a small vibrating motion that causes the particles to move and collide with each other, leading to reduction in particle size. The pin mill uses a series of pins fitted to a rotor that rotates at high speeds, which causes the pins to strike and shear the materials, leading to reduction in size. The fluid energy mill works by introducing a high-velocity jet of gas or steam into a chamber that contains the particles to be ground. The particles collide with each other and with the walls of the chamber, leading to reduction in size. Finally, the stirred media mill uses small grinding media that are stirred in a chamber to grind the materials.

There are various types of grinding mills available for use in different industries. Grinding mills are designed to reduce the size of materials and can be grouped into tumbling mills, roller mills, and very fine grinding mills, which include high speed pulverizing or hammer mill, vibrating mill, pin mill, turbo mill, fluid energy mill, and stirred media mill. The selection of the appropriate type of grinding mill depends on several factors, including the size and type of materials to be ground, the desired product size, and the environmental requirements of the processing plant.

What did a mill do in medieval times?

In medieval times, mills were vital to the functioning of communities. Millers operated grain mills, which were powered by water or wind, and used to grind wheat, barley, and oats into flour. These mills played a significant role in agriculture and food production, as they processed grains into flour, a key ingredient in many dishes and food sales.

Grain was grown by farmers in the fields and was harvested in the late summer or early autumn. After the grain was harvested, it was either kept for food storage or transported to mills to be turned into flour. The millers, who were highly skilled professionals, were responsible for operating and maintaining the mills.

When the grain arrived at the mill, it was poured into a hopper above the millstones. The miller then adjusted the millstones to create the desired grade of flour. The grain would travel down between the two millstones, which rotated against each other to crush and grind the grain into flour. The flour would then be collected and bagged, ready for use.

In medieval times, grain mills were often owned by lords or monasteries and were located near to the river or stream – which provided the water power needed for the mill to function. As mills were essential to the economy and the production of food, they were heavily regulated by the government, and millers were required to follow strict rules.

The medieval miller was a crucial part of the community, ensuring that the people had the flour they needed for their daily bread. The skills of the miller were highly respected, and the grain mill was a vital part of individual and communal life during the medieval era.