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And no where is that more apparent than at the surviving water mills in Ozark County, Missouri.For nearly a century these old mills embraced the pace of the olden times--and to a large extent they still do.Since most hilly-region Ozarkers preferred cornbread to biscuits--mostly because corn was easier to raise here than wheat, the mills' main business was grinding corn.Flour was milled more frequently in flatter, open areas more conducive to wheat growing.
Indoors a gift and souvenir shop features handcrafted items and original paintings. (The nationally distributed line of stone-ground bakery products bearing the Hodgson name is now produced at a modern mill in nearby Gainesville.) Standing nearby is an old round gas pump, its glass top now clouded and stained.Many folks were particular about getting back the meal from their own grain rather than that traded to them by the miller from his holding bin, minus his "toll." Most washed and cared for their own white woven sacks through many uses.And while they waited for their meal, they caught up on the latest news, had a horse shoed, or perhaps traded for some piece goods at the store.Once plentiful in this region of abundant water, Ozarks grist mills demonstrate the best of our interaction with the land--a natural union of the power of nature and the needs of man.They were the centers of community life until the coming of the automobile--and easily accessible store-bought flour--took folks to town in the 1930's and 40's.
Visitors to the time warp that is the Ozarks can still find a glimpse of that world. Though the tin roof is rusted and the wood siding scoured by wind and time, the building looks much as it has since its construction in 1900 by Alva Hodgson, master millwright.