John Cable grist mill water wheel

A while back I posted a picture showing off the craftsmanship of the cabins in Cades Cove, which I think is incredible.  Even more impressive though, in my opinion, are the ingenuity and creativity of the various mills in the park.  The John Cable grist mill, pictured here, is probably the most famous and frankly is the most photogenic.  I can just walk around and check out the details here for hours.  So fascinating!

While I was there on this particular day, the gentleman that runs the mill was wandering around looking for something and so I struck up a conversation.  If you look at the picture above in the lower left-hand corner, there is a block of wood with rounded edges… turns out that’s what he was looking for.  As part of the tradition of the mill, the Park maintains the mill in an operational state the way it was run back in the day; including using animal fat as lubrication!  From time to time in the evenings, the mill operator told me, a bear would come by and steal this cap and then proceed to lick all the fat off! 🙂  Part of his morning routine was to find where the bear had left it when he was finished.

–Dan Thompson