The wife was teaching sewing lessons out of the house today, so I decided to drop by the monthly Hagood Mill singer/songwriter showcase event. Hagood Mill is a great slice of Americana:
One of the finest regional examples of nineteenth century technology can be found just three miles north of Pickens, SC. Located just off Highway 178, at 138 Hagood Mill Road, this 1845 gristmill served many generations of rural farm families until its closing in the mid-1960s.
Farmers only got paid once a year and that was when, and if, their cash crop was sold. Gristmill’s like the Hagood Mill made farm life possible by taking a “toll” of the corn ground instead of charging money. Before refrigeration, in the hot summertime, corn meal only had a shelf life of about two weeks, so the old “corn mill” was a place the farmers depended on and visited frequently.
In the 1960s, the Federal Government passed regulations requiring the farmers’ corn to be tested before grinding, and also, requiring preservatives. This effectively shut down most of the gristmills nationwide and Pickens County was no exception. […] Since 1996, the mill has operated, rain or shine, the third Saturday of every month from 10:00 until 4:00. These monthly “corn grinding” days became mini-festivals of traditional arts, folklife and music. Presently there are more than twenty-five regular demonstrators who share their skills in milling, blacksmithing, cotton ginning, moonshining, spinning, weaving, bee-keeping, metalsmithing, quilting, woodcarving, flintknapping, chair caning, open hearth cooking and more.
I specifically went to listen to the live folk, blues, and bluegrass music, but I was impressed to see the gristmill still in operation. Greenville was founded with a gristmill. Here’s the water wheel that still powers the old mill:
And here’s the corn being milled into grits and meal:
All around the mill site, there are musicians who gather to play. This was one of the banjo circles:
You can browse through these pictures to get a look at the blacksmith shop, the cotton gin, the moonshine still, and the various artisans peddling their wares. If you’re ever near Pickens, South Carolina, on the third Saturday of a month, you should drop by.