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The time has come for the John P. Cable Mill to get a new water wheel! This historic grist mill is a centerpiece for visitors to Cades Cove, and it is now getting a brand new water wheel built for it. Visit My Smokies has all the details about the construction of the new water wheel for the Cable Mill in Cades Cove.
Building the New Water Wheel
Over time, water wheels wear out and start to rot. According to Delayne Hodges, a historic preservation expert in the Great Smoky Mountains, the wheels used to have to be swapped out every 7 to 10 years with wheels that were kept stacked in barns. These days, there are no extra water wheels to replace one in a grist mill from the 1870s. Because of this, the new water wheel had to be built from scratch. It took a couple weeks to draft the wheel and calculate all the materials needed to build a replacement, as well as an additional two weeks to cut and shape the white oak lumber into a new water wheel. The lumber and hardware for the new mill cost $7,400.
Watch the video from WBIR News below to learn more about the construction of the water wheel:
Installing the Water Wheel
Installing the new water wheel at the Cable Mill in Cades Cove is not as simple as just taking out the old and putting in the new. The National Park Service will remove the old wheel, then spend a couple weeks working toward improving the water flow and drainage at the mill. Currently, water collects at the bottom of the wheel, which makes it difficult to spin and is eroding the water wheel faster than usual. The new water wheel is expected to be up and running sometime in September.
About the John P. Cable Mill in Cades Cove
John P. Cable built the mill in Cades Cove in the 1870s. The mill was an important resource for people who were living in the valley because it allowed them to grind their corn and wheat into flour to make bread. The mill was also used to cut lumber and stands at 10 feet and 9.5 inches tall and 5 feet wide. The mill has become an important part of history and is kept running today to give Smoky Mountain visitors a glimpse into life in the 1800s. When you visit, you might have the opportunity to see a volunteer working at the Cable Mill who will answer any questions you have and grind corn for you to see!
More About Cades Cove
Cades Cove continues to be one of the most popular spots in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Cades Cove Loop Road circles the cove and allows drivers to see all of the historic points from the comfort of their cars. Cades Cove is home to gorgeous sights, historic sites and buildings, and a wide variety of wildlife. If you are hoping to spot some wildlife when you visit the Smokies, this is one of the best places to do it!
To learn more about Cades Cove, read our blog, “8 Shocking Secrets of Cades Cove You Won’t Believe,” then start planning your visit!