Mabry Mill on the Blue Ridge Parkway
Image: by D L Ennis, milepost 176.1 Mabry Mill - Most photographed site in the National Park System.
Ed and Lizzy Mabry built this mill and ground corn for their neighbors for roughly 30 years, ending in the mid-1930s. A short paved walkway leads to the mill and adjoining exhibits that look at rural life in the Blue Ridge Mountains including weaving, spinning, blacksmithing, woodworking, moonshining and sorghum making. You will also see old farm implements, millstones, lumbering equipment and tanning operations. Surrounding the mill are extensive wooden flumes to direct water from nearby streams to power the waterwheel at the Mabry Mill.
The mill is open May-October. Grain is ground during occasional demonstrations, and you can purchase stone-ground flour from a nearby restaurant and gift shop. Drop in on the living history demonstrations offered in summer and early fall at the nearby blacksmith shop and Matthews Cabin. Matthews Cabin is a 19th-century cabin that was moved in 1956 from near Galax to the Mabry Mill site. In fact, the mill and the blacksmith shop from another part of Mabry's land came with the site. Everything else was moved in from other places.
On early fall weekends, demonstrators make apple butter the old fashioned way – in a fire-heated kettle that gives a wonderful aroma. Old-time and bluegrass music fills the air on Sunday afternoons in summer and fall. Bring a lawn chair and, if the spirit moves you, join in flat-footing on the informally arranged dance boards. If you work up an appetite, the adjacent restaurant offers a good selection, and its buckwheat pancakes and country ham are legendary.
Parking is available at the nearby restaurant and gift shop, with alternate parking off the unpaved country road which circles behind the site.