If you are looking for a beautiful fall drive and a trip back in time, you’ll want to make the short drive to Falls Mill, located just 35 miles Northeast of Huntsville. Falls Mill is a historic textile factory in Belvidere, Tennessee, and dates to 1873. The water wheel is 32 foot in diameter, and 4 feet wide. It is one of the largest water wheels in the United States that is still operational. This massive wheel operates everything in the mill. It was installed at Falls Mill in 1906 and manufactured in Pennsylvania & shipped via train in multiple pieces. When the wheel arrives in June of that year, it takes 3 months to put it all together, according to Jane, who currently owns and operates Falls Mill, with her husband.
Today, the mill produces stone ground grits, cornmeal & flour, which is shipped to locations all over the United States. Inside the museum, you can watch the wheel turn all the machinery from all four levels of the museum. Falls Mill was once a cotton and wool factory, and then later converted to a cotton gin, then a woodworking shop. If you walk all the way to the fourth floor, not only will you see the antique machinery, but you will also see “early graffiti” on the walls, which was placed by workers and residents of the mill community that dates to 1885 and the early 1900’s. This is the only place where graffiti remains on the plaster.
Falls Mill is open to group tours, school groups and the public, April through mid-December, Thursday through Saturday. Upon arriving, you will watch an introductory video about the historic mill, and then you are welcome to walk the grounds on a self-guided tour. Comfortable walking shoes are recommended. As you make your way through the museum, you will see antique machinery that is related to the history of the mill. The popular dog powered butter churn, spinning wheels and a rare collection of 19th century power looms and wool machines are on display. Don’t forget to drop a quarter in the old 1929 Aeolian player piano, located on the second floor. It was converted into a nickelodeon, the so money visitors put in it, goes back into restoration of the mill.
Located on the property are two beautiful, picturesque waterfalls that power the waterwheel. There is also a log cabin, stocked with fresh homemade pastries, that is used as a bed and breakfast and is available to book if you are looking for a nice, quiet getaway. But you need to book in advance, the day I was there, it was booked until early next spring. If you are looking for a place to take a nice day trip or a long romantic weekend, Falls Mill is the perfect place to do just that.
Angie is a local Huntsville content creator/vlogger. Sharing lifestyle, travel, food reviews & much more on her YouYube channel and Instagram.