The Mill Experience
How does our mill work?
War Eagle Mill is the last working grist mill in Arkansas and is believed to be the last undershot mill in the country.
What is a grist mill?
A grist mill grinds cereal grain into flour and “meals”.
What is an undershot mill?
An undershot water wheel is powered by the water running under the wheel (not over). Such mills are documented as far back as the 1st century BC.
Overshot mills are more common, with the water pouring over the top of the wheel.
There are few undershot mills left because, in order to function, they must be built very close to the water level, in the bed of the river. Most of them have been washed away over the years.
How does it work at War Eagle Mill?
War Eagle Mill’s 18-foot undershot water wheel rotates when water from the War Eagle Creek strikes the paddles or blades at the bottom of the wheel. The force of the water’s movement pushes the blades of the wheel, which rotates a turbine that drives the mill’s machinery. This, in turn, allows the millstone to grind grain into flour.
Some days it is impossible to run the grinders if the water in the creek is too high (and could possibly damage the mechanism) or too low (and does not create enough power to run the grinder).
What are mill stones?
The mill stones are actual stones, located inside the grinder.
Our millstones work in pairs and are set vertically, one in front of the other. The front stone, called the runner stone, turns as the other stone, called the bed stone, remains stationary. As the runner stone turns, the miller feeds grain into the eye of the hole in the center of the stone. Grain moves between the grinding surfaces, is ground, and exits the outside as flour.
The grinding surfaces on the War Eagle Mill millstones are sharpened, or dressed, using the quarter dress pattern. Dressing involves cutting the pattern or the grooves into the grinding faces of the millstones. This eases the movement of the grain from the eye section to the outside of the stones. It also provides ventilation to help keep the temperature of the grinding process at an ideal level. Each millstone has an identical dress pattern. When the runner stone moves in front of the bed stone, the patterns oppose each other. This prevents the stones from making contact. Depending on the grain being ground, and whether the miller wants to produce flour or meal, the distance between the stones is adjusted and can be as close as tissue paper distance apart.
To keep the stones in good order and quality of flour high, the stones are dressed regularly. A pair of millstones may take up to 20 hours to dress completely. War Eagle Mill’s quality, well-executed millstones produce nutritious organic and Non-GMO flour every day.