Skip to Content

The Old Mill Historic District Pigeon Forge

Step Back in Time at the Old Mill Historic District

A Historic Gem in Pigeon Forge

Sometimes, when you visit a place, you don’t fully grasp its history until you immerse yourself in it. That’s precisely what happens when you step back in time at the Old Mill Historic District in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. This enchanting locale, nestled on the banks of the Little Pigeon River, offers a captivating glimpse into the past.

The Old Mill Historic District attracts over one million visitors annually, making it one of the top tourist destinations in Pigeon Forge.

Entrance sign to the Old Mill District in Pigeon Forge, featuring historic charm and scenic views

The Old Mill: A Storied Legacy

Built in the 1800s, this water-powered grist mill once served as the lifeline of the early settlers of the Smoky Mountains. It not only produced the meals and flours essential for their sustenance but also provided electricity for the town until 1935.

Descending the steps to the Old Mill, you are greeted by the sight of its giant water wheel. This impressive structure harnesses the river’s flow to turn 4,600-pound stones known as French Buhrs, made of flint granite. Astonishingly, these stones, which we saw only the second set ever used, convert grain into approximately 1,000 pounds of product daily. This operation remains active, with the mill’s products featuring prominently in dishes at the Old Mill Restaurant.

The Old Mill, built in 1830, is one of the oldest continually operating grist mills in the United States.

The Old Mill is not just a piece of history; it’s a living testament to the ingenuity and resilience of the early settlers of the Smoky Mountains,” says local historian Calvin Franklin.

Historic water wheel at the Old Mill District in Pigeon Forge, showcasing its timeless charm and heritage

Dining at The Old Mill Restaurant

Our visit wouldn’t be complete without sampling the culinary delights at the Old Mill Restaurant. The biscuits and corn fritters, made with the mill’s own products, were simply divine. I opted for the Fried Chicken combo dinner, a feast of moist, delicious fried chicken, creamy mashed potatoes, and perfectly seasoned green beans.

Visiting the Old Mill was like stepping back in time. The craftsmanship and dedication to preserving history are evident in every detail,” remarked visitor Betty Cutshall from North Carolina.

Fried chicken dinner with mashed potatoes and green beans at the Old Mill Restaurant in Pigeon Forge

A Hub of Community and History

In its heyday, the Old Mill was a central hub for community announcements. Important news, from weddings and births to death notices and declarations of war, were all posted here. This mill also served as the town’s first post office and operated as a knitting mill during the Civil War.

The Old Mill contributes significantly to the local economy, generating an estimated $5 million in revenue each year from its restaurant, shops, and tours.

Sign for Old Mill General Store and Restaurant in Pigeon Forge, featuring local shops and historic charm

Preserving Heritage: Shops and Crafts

Today, the Old Mill is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is one of the most photographed mills in the country. After lunch, we explored the craft shops and stores that preserve the area’s rich heritage. The district is a working tribute to the people of the Smokies, offering a unique shopping experience and plenty of photo opportunities.

Boy posing with The Sandman statue at the Old Mill District in Pigeon Forge, a family-friendly attraction


Iron Mountain Metal Craft: A Hands-On Experience

One of the highlights of our trip was our serendipitous encounter with Iron Mountain Metal Craft. Here, the kids were mesmerized watching blacksmith Robby Bowman at work. Bowman, a third-generation blacksmith and a contestant on the History Channel’s “Forged in Fire,” heats, molds, and bends metals into stunning knives.

Kids posing by Iron Mountain Metal Craft anvil sign in Pigeon Forge, a hub for hands-on blacksmithing

For a small fee, you can don an apron and try your hand at blacksmithing, creating your own knife to take home as a keepsake. This hands-on activity is a nod to the local heritage, as blacksmiths once set up forges along the Pigeon River, giving the town its name, Pigeon Forge.

Kids learning blacksmithing from Robby Bowman at Iron Mountain Metal Craft in Pigeon Forge

Blacksmithing is an art form that connects us to our past. At Iron Mountain Metal Craft, we’re proud to keep this tradition alive for future generations,” says blacksmith Robby Bowman.


Plan Your Visit

There’s plenty to do in the Old Mill Historic District, from enjoying delicious food to shopping for unique items and participating in captivating demonstrations. However, parking can be challenging during peak times, so plan accordingly.

View of the historic Old Mill in Pigeon Forge with vibrant flowers in the foreground

Call to Action

Are you ready to step back in time and experience the charm and history of the Old Mill Historic District? Plan your visit today.

Engage with Us

Have you visited the Old Mill Historic District? What was your favorite part? 

About Julee: Julee Morrison is an experienced author with 35 years of expertise in parenting and recipes. She is the author of four cookbooks: The Instant Pot College Cookbook, The How-To Cookbook for Teens, The Complete Cookbook for Teens, and The Complete College Cookbook. Julee is passionate about baking, crystals, reading, and family. Her writing has appeared in The LA Times (Bon Jovi Obsession Goes Global), Disney's Family Fun Magazine (August 2010, July 2009, September 2008), and My Family Gave Up Television (page 92, Disney Family Fun August 2010). Her great ideas have been featured in Disney's Family Fun (Page 80, September 2008) and the Write for Charity book From the Heart (May 2010). Julee's work has also been published in Weight Watchers Magazine, All You Magazine (Jan. 2011, February 2011, June 2013), Scholastic Parent and Child Magazine (Oct. 2011), Red River Family Magazine (Jan. 2011),, and more. Notably, her article "My Toddler Stood on Elvis' Grave and Scaled Over Boulders to Get to a Dinosaur" made AP News, and "The Sly Way I Cured My Child's Lying Habit" was featured on PopSugar. When she's not writing, Julee enjoys spending time with her family and exploring new baking recipes.
error: Content is protected !!