This 18th century grist mill was originally constructed in 1798 by James Rice along Lost Creek in Union Co., TN. It was operated by four generations of the Rice family. The old mill was setup to power a sawmill, cotton gin, trip hammer and even to operate a dynamo that supplied electrical lighting for the Rice family home in 1899. The wooden watermill is of the overshot design meaning water was channeled to the top of the wheel and allowed to pour over it in order to turn the wheel. The photo is of the internal workings of the mill. All the internal gears were carved from hickory and the main water wheel shaft is believed to have been hewn from a yellow poplar tree. The mill stones are original, said to have been imported and used as ballast on their voyage from France.
The mill was operated by the Rice family until 1935 when their property was purchased by TVA. The land was to be flooded upon the completion of Norris Dam. The Civilian Conservation Corp and the National Park Service carefully labeled each part of the wooden mechanism, disassembled the mill, and reassembled it at its current location in Norris Dam State Park.