Hodgson Mill, Highway 181, Sycamore, Missouri
We took a quick drive to Hodgson Mill yesterday evening. It was a little foggy, but still a beautiful drive. From West Plains take CC Hwy west to Hwy 181. Turn left on Hwy 181 and go about 3 miles and turn right to stay on Hwy 181. Hodgson Mill will be approximately 4 miles on your left. Round trip from West Plains is 54 miles.
A little history about Hodgson Mill...
The mill was built in 1861 by William Holeman at the base of the cliff where Hodgson Spring discharges. The spring produces 28,900,000 gallons of water a day. The mill was closed during the Civic War and it is unclear whether Holeman reopened the mill or had to build a new one after the war. Holeman operated the mill until his death in 1879.
The mill was purchased for $500 in 1884 by Alva Hodgson and his mother, Mary. Hodgson made several upgrades to the machinery and was capable of producing a higher quality "white" flour that what was produced before. This was due to the invention of a Middlings Purifier in 1870.
At the time, the mill building housed a general store, the Sycamore Post Office, sawmill, and cotton gin. Farmers visited the mill to have their grain (corn and wheat) ground into flour or meal.
A new mill was completed around 1897. This is the structure that stands today. Alva Hodgson's brother, George, bought 1/3 interest in the mill and by 1901, had purchased the mill entirely from his brother. Alva Hodgson went on to build nearby Dawt Mill, completed in 1909. Alva died in 1921 and George continued to operate the mill until his death in 1927.
Ownership of the mill passed to Fred O. Foster from 1927-1934. In 1934, the mill was purchased by businessman Charles Theodore Aid. The mill remained in the Aid family until 1998 and became known as Aid-Hodgson Mill.
From 1934 to 1998, several different people leased the mill and had various business ventures. In 1949, Fred Leach operated the mill increasing the production volume to as much as 2,000 pounds of flour a day. From 1963 to 1969, the Harold Stott family took over operation and expanded the line of products to include white and yellow cornmeal, whole wheat cereal, bran, and pancake flours. In 1969, Ken and Teena Harrington took over the lease and began selling antiques and operating canoe rentals for the nearby Bryant River. They also offered flour and products in their store and incorporated the company as Hodgson Mill, Inc. In 1969, when the Harringtons took over the lease, the mill was grinding only a couple hundred pounds of flour a day. By 1973, sales had grown 500 percent, and the old mill was straining under the maximum of 1 million pounds of wheat and corn a year.
In 1976, to keep up with demand, the Harringtons moved production to a modern facility in Gainesville. No large-scale production has taken place at Hodgson Mill since.
The mill suffered some flood damage in 1982 when water rose into the main milling room.
Between 1985 and 1993, Herbert Smith (great-nephew of Alva Hodgson) and his wife leased the mill and provided tours, a store, resort cabins and campground.
The mill was sold to Hank and Jean Macler in 1998 and registered the mill in the National Register of Historic Places.
In 2011, the mill was sold to John and Gwen Deakle.
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Sources: Ozark County Chamber of Commerce and Wikipedia