Friday, November 17, 2017

Hagood Mill

Just outside of Pickens, South Carolina is the historic property of Hagood Mill. The operational water-powered gristmill is on the National Register of Historic Places (listed in 1972), and is the centerpiece of the Hagood Mill Historic Site and Folklife Center and its monthly festivals.


The tributary of Twelve Mile River was formerly known as Jennings Creek, and mills have existed on the site since the 1790s. In 1845 James Hagood built the current mill on what is now the Hagood Branch, and operations continued until 1966. In 1973 the mill and surrounding acreage was donated to Pickens Country Museum, and over the years additional historic buildings have been constructed on site: two restored log cabins, a blacksmith shop, a moonshine still and a cotton gin.

Things to do at Hagood Mill 

Nature Trail
The 0.75 mile Nature Trail starts just behind the rock art building at the old outhouse. The trail follows Hagood Creek up to Prater’s Creek Bridge, a 64-foot steel bridge built by the Greenville Steel and Foundry Company in 1930 and brought to the site in 2007. In the autumn the hardwood trees towering over the creek are full of color, and walnuts and acorns litter the trail. After crossing the bridge the loop delivers you back to the mill, emerging on the opposite side of the creek next to the wooden water chute.

Prater's Creek Bridge
Near the end of the trail

Historic buildings
The moonshine still and cotton gin building are located adjacent to the end of the trail. This corner of South Carolina was rather infamous for moonshining, and old stills and other equipment can still be found near creeks in many places (such as Moonshine Falls). It was interesting looking at the old pictures of moonshiners and the many different set-ups that were used over the years for distilling spirits.

Moonshiners wall of fame

Over in the cotton gin building is an entire 1896 Daniel-Pratt cotton gin and cotton press, in use as recently as the 1950s. Additional tools can also be viewed, such as a 1925 horse-drawn crop duster.

To access the mill visitors must cross back over the creek. With the largest waterwheel in the state, Hagood Mill is the only waterwheel in SC still made of wood and one of the oldest known gristmills still producing grain products in the state. The water wheel and mechanical components of the mill were rebuilt in the mid-1970s and restored in the 1990s, but touring the inside of the mill you’ll see much remains as it was 170 years ago. The two story building is constructed of hand hewn logs and covered with clapboard siding, and for years was the vital gathering place that brought together rural families and friends.

The two historic Pickens County log cabins date back to 1791 and 1925, although both have been reconstructed on site. The cabins are open to visitors, as is the family farm exhibit. This area (which includes the ceramics shed and outdoor stage) is the center of the 3rd Saturday festivals, and traditional arts, folklife and living history demonstrations that include milling, blacksmithing, cotton ginning, moonshining, spinning, weaving, bee-keeping, metalsmithing, quilting, woodcarving, flintknapping, chair caning and open hearth cooking take place on site.

Hagood Creek Petroglyph Site
In 2003 prehistoric Native American rock carvings were discovered, having long been buried under a 19th century road. The petroglyphs were preserved, and today can be safely viewed from an observational boardwalk while listening to a historical audio presentation. The 17 human figures and other carvings are among the most significant of their kind in South Carolina.

Look for two stick figures in the center/center right of the photo

In addition to the petroglyph room, there is an additional exhibit room that has information on historic period rock art, the meaning of various figures and shapes, some petroglyphs for up-close viewing and a replica of a portion of the Hagood Creek site for hands-on exploration.

Visit a festival!
The monthly folklife festival and concert series is a huge draw, the music and other entertainment offered at the third Saturday events irresistible to adults and children alike. Many of this region's best bluegrass, old time, and blues musicians have performed at the Mill, including many SC Folk Heritage Award winners.

The next festival is tomorrow! In observance of Native American Heritage Month, Hagood Mill will be hosting a Native American Celebration on Saturday, November 18, 2017. “Visitors and guest performers will participate in the festivities of the day which will include: traditional drumming, singing, dancing, Native American flute playing, storytelling, Cherokee hymns in the Cherokee language, and traditional crafts. Demonstrations will be going on all day throughout the Mill Site including traditional Cherokee blow-gun demonstrations, traditional Catawba pottery making, beadwork, basket making, flint-knapping, finger-weaving, atl atl spear throwing, bow and arrow shooting and more.” For a full description of all the festival events, please visit the Hagood Mill Historic Site & Folklife Center Facebook page.

Bring a picnic
With multiple picnic tables located creekside near the old mill, visitors can take a break for lunch between explorations of the mill, trails and petroglyph site. Some of the resident chickens might wander over to keep you company!

Visit the Hagood Mill store
Fresh stone-ground corn meal, grits, and wheat flour ground on site are available for purchase, along with Hagood Mill cookbooks and a variety of other mill related items. The staff are extremely knowledgeable and helpful, and can be a valuable resource for local facts and lore.


There is a $5.00 parking fee on 3rd Saturday festival days, but otherwise admission is FREE to the Hagood Mill Site as well as the Hagood Creek Petroglyph Site. While in the area you might also be interested in visiting Glassy Mountain, Nine Times Preserve and Long Shoals Wayside Park, three of our favorite natural areas in the Upstate…

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