Falls Mill, Tennessee: A Still-Working Historic Mill

When my husband and I travel, we try to include enough time in our schedule for those unexpected road signs we just can't resist following. That strategy worked like a charm recently as we drove along U.S. Highway 64 in south-central Tennessee.

When we saw a sign that read "Falls Mill" pointing down a side road, we decided to explore. A mile or so later we found ourselves in front of a three-story red-brick working mill, owned and operated by John and Jane Lovett.

After watching a short video about the mill's history, we wandered around and admired the grindstones and antique machinery. We could hear the rushing water of Factory Creek as the 32-foot waterwheel -- one of the largest in the United States -- turned around and around.

We learned that the mill, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was built in 1873 as a cotton woolen mill, then converted into a cotton gin, a woodworking shop and finally, a gristmill.

On the second floor, we found a country store that sells handcrafts, toys and books -- and stone-ground corn-meal and flour made on the premises! There's also a small museum with displays of antique machinery, including hand looms and carding machines.

If you are interested in staying overnight at this serene spot, there's an 1895 log cabin bed-and-breakfast on the grounds. Plus, the Lovetts are renovating an 1836 log stagecoach inn that'll be their home, along with two bed-and-breakfast guest rooms. We're glad we had time in our schedule to see this nostalgic attraction. It pays to turn off the highway and follow those signs!

Before You Visit

Falls Mill is 1 mile north of U.S. Highway 64, roughly 22 miles east of Fayetteville and about 30 miles west of I-24. From I-24, take Exit 127 and head west on Highway 64 to Old Salem Lexie Road. Turn north and after about 1 mile, turn west onto Falls Mill Road.

The mill is open daily (except Wednesdays and Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Days) from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 12:30 to 4 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $3 for adults and $1 for youths under age 14. For details call 1-931-469-7161.

A room at the Falls Mill Log Cabin Bed & Breakfast is $90 a night for single or double occupancy, plus $5 for each additional adult; free for children under age 16. The cabin comes stocked with supplies for a breakfast of homemade bread, pastries, fresh fruit, cereal, juice and coffee.

More to See

The Cowan Railroad Museum is in the old Nashville & Chattanooga Railroad depot in Cowan, about 18 miles east of Falls Mill on U.S. Highway 41. The museum showcases a rare full-size Columbia-type locomotive, a 1920 Porter steam locomotive and a caboose plus other railroad memorabilia. It's open Thursday through Sunday from May through October.

For more information about the museum and other area attractions, call the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce, 1-931-967-6788.

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