Blue Ridge Parkway
If there's one place you must stop along the Blue Ridge Parkway, and just one place in which you simply must take a picture, it's Mabry Mill. Edwin Mabry built his iconic mill in 1910, and the National Park Service restored it in 1945, making it the parkway's most photographed attraction.
There's much more at this stop, than just the old mill. Walk around the back side of the mill (where you get a view of the wooden sluice that provides water to the wheel.
You can get an up-close look at the water wheel and the mill's gears...
... when you step inside. The energy provided by the water wheel not only ground corn, it also powered a blacksmith shop and a sawmill. A system of belts transferred the power to where it was needed.
Plus, the workshop had a great view!
Ed Mabry also built a home near his mill -- a two story frame house. In the 1930's, parkway designers decided the historic home didn't fit in with the look of the parkway, so they tore it down, then brought in a log cabin from nearby.
Behind the mill, there's an entire village of turn-of-the-20th-century Appalachian buildings. There's also a good chance you'll find craftsmen demonstrating some of the do-it-yourself skills that made mountain living possible, like weaving...
... and spinning.
Unfortunately, I arrived just a few days or weeks too late to capture the perfect picture at the mill, of rhododendron blooming. My visit was in mid-June, so you might want to aim for late-May (or just stop by the gift shop for a postcard).
There is a gift shop, restaurant, and rest area at Mabry Mill.
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