Resting on the banks of the Little Pigeon River is a landmark from another time. The Old Mill, first built in 1830, has been a focal point of community in Pigeon Forge and continues this tradition to this day. A visit to Pigeon Forge, TN isn't complete without stopping by the Old Mill that's a part of the rich history and heritage of this mountain community.
A Pigeon Forge Landmark
The Old Mill in Pigeon Forge was first built in 1830 on property that has been in use since the founding of Pigeon Forge. The original spot of the river was home to the ironworks or forge for which Pigeon Forge is named. This waterwheel-powered gristmill was the center of life in the old days, since it performed the valuable task of efficiently grinding corn, wheat, and oats for local farmers.
This Old Mill has served many purposes in its long history. During the Civil War, the Old Mill powered looms that made cloth for soldiers. In the 1900s, the mill housed a hydroelectric generator that was a source of electricity for the town until the 1930s. Today, the mill is listed under the US National Registry of Historic Places and holds the distinction of being one of the most photographed mills in the country.
The Old Mill Restaurant
The legacy of the Old Mill is alive and strong today with a restaurant that uses wheat, mixes and grits made from this historic mill to make delicious southern meals. Here, you can enjoy heaping plates and southern hospitality for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
The dining area has an old-fashioned, inviting atmosphere and boasts views of the Little Pigeon River. The restaurant serves classics like:
- Fried Chicken
- Chicken Pot Pie
- Country Fried Steak
- Pot Roast
- Chicken and Dumplings
Signature sides like corn chowder, homemade green beans and corn fritters earn truly rave reviews. Made from scratch pies and desserts are also available.
Insider Tip: If you visit the Old Mill Restaurant, be sure to bring your appetite so you can make the most of their generous portions.
Country General Store
When you step into the Old Mill General Store, you step back in a simpler time when all a family could need was at their local community store. This tradition carries on at this old-timey store that sits right next to the historic Old Mill. Inside you'll find:
- Wheat Flour
- Homemade Jams and Jellies
- Pancake, Biscuit, and Muffin Mixes
- Smoky Mountain Crafts
All of the grains and mixes are freshly ground from the authentic water-wheel powered mill that has been in operation for nearly 200 years! After dinner, you can bring home some of their delicious corn fritter or biscuit mix to enjoy long after your Smoky Mountain vacation.
The Old Mill Square
Across the street, you'll find a shopping area that houses several places worth stopping after a meal at the Old Mill Restaurant.
- Pigeon River Pottery – This onsite pottery store features handcrafted pottery pieces that are both functional and decorative. See these authentic Smoky Mountain crafts being made and shop for one-of-a-kind gifts.
- The Old Mill Pottery House Cafe and Grille – This restaurant offers lunch and dinner with a pleasant dining area by the Little Pigeon River. Even better, the plates and bowls used to serve the food comes from the pottery shop next door.
- The Old Mill Creamery – Satisfy your sweet tooth this this classic ice cream parlor in the Old Mill Square.
- The Old Mill Candy Kitchen – Offers old-fashioned, homemade candy and is one of the only places to find it in Pigeon Forge.
- The Old Forge Distillery – A moonshine distillery that honors moonshine's role in the heritage of the Smoky Mountains by using corn ground in the historic gristmill. You can even tour the distillery, learn about how moonshine is made, try samples, and purchase a jar of 'shine to enjoy responsibly.
Old Mill Heritage Day
In September, Pigeon Forge takes the opportunity to celebrate the rich heritage of the Old Mill by holding a day long festival. The Old Mill Square is filled with food, fun, music, and games for all ages. Smoky Mountain craftspeople attend and demonstrate how to make lye soap, sorghum, and apple butter as was done in the old days. Free guided tours of the Old Mill are also available for visitors to learn about the history of this iconic Pigeon Forge landmark.
Final Thoughts on the Old Mill
Pigeon Forge today is known as the playground of the Smokies and has mile after mile of attractions, shops, and restaurants. A stop at the Old Mill in Pigeon Forge is a way to see a part of the old Pigeon Forge that still remains intact. Enjoy a bit of Smoky Mountain history with this truly iconic place in the heart of downtown.
Written by Hayden Brown