Saturday, May 20, 2017



The Ole Gilliam Park is located on Carbonton Road (NC 42) about six miles west of Sanford in the rolling sand hills of Piedmont North Carolina.  The Park is a wonderfully reproduced mill village in which many activities and events are held. 

A large mill pond is a nice feature of the park around which the mill village is constructed.  The original mill was constructed by Stephen Henley in 1850.  In 1870, Henley sold the mill and the Gilliam Family leased and operated the mill until they purchased it in 1890.  In 1928, the mill was washed away in a flood.  But a half century later it was rebuilt up the creek from the original site.  The 1979 mill is a very accurate reproduction.  It was the weekend project of a man named Worth Pickard. It is the feature building of the park and grinds mill weekly. 

The Mill was open but not grinding the day we visited.  I got a few photographs of the inside which is filled with original mill equipment gathered from various sites throughout the southeast.  Bags of corn meal and hominy grits were for sale.  Folks were very friendly even letting me go upstairs to poke around.

At the time of my visit I did not realize the mill was a reproduction.  In fact I took a picture of a drawing of the original mill.  The folks who reconstructed this mill did a fantastic job maintaining historical accuracy.  It appears that the original mill was served by a creek and there was a long wooden race feeding the water to the wheel.  

The current mill is served by water from the large mill pond which is piped to the mill race.  There were old mill stones scattered around the mill and various pieces of equipment adorned the walls.
I took many pictures of the mill from different angles but most of the mill is obscured by summer growth along the creek banks.  This park is a wonderful place to visit.  We missed the festivities earlier in the day.  There were venders set up on the east side of the creek across from the mill village. 

One exhibitor was a blacksmith and he was demonstrating to the visitors how to make a square shaped rod from a round piece of iron.  There is a real art to his craft. 

If you are in the Sanford area, be sure to drop by the Ole Gilliam Mill Park.  It is privately run by evidently some very dedicated volunteers.
Props to Worth Pickard for recreating this old mill.  Props to those who have created the Ole Gilliam Mill Park.  I look forward to returning one day for some BBQ and Bluegrass music!
From the Park's website:
"A man plus a penny postcard plus an old memory equals what has grown into one of the states' premier historic parks.  It is difficult to believe that this slice of the past was built almost entirely on weekends (didn't miss church either) by Worth Pickard and a handful of friends and family."

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