ar Eagle Mill’s history begins with the story of a tenacious pioneer couple, Sylvanus and Catherine Blackburn, who understood the importance of fresh, natural food in the lives of families as far back as 1832 when the first Mill was built.
After the war ended in 1865, Sylvanus and his family returned to find their house still standing, but the Mill was gone again. This time, it would be Sylvanus’ son, James Austin Cameron (J. A. C.) Blackburn, who would take on the task of reconstructing the third mill, which he finished in 1873. J. A. C. decided to expand Mill production by adding a more powerful grinding machine run by a turbine engine instead of a water wheel. The Mill grew even more prosperous. Their sawmill, reportedly the largest in Arkansas, led J. A. C. to become known as the “Lumber King” of northwest Arkansas. Lumber cut at the War Ealge saw mill was used to build much of Fayetteville, AR-- including Old Main on the University of Arkansas campus.
When J.A.C. decided to run for the Arkansas Senate and won, his time was too divided between his new duties and the Mill, so he sold the Mill to a family named Kilgore. They operated the Mill until 1924 when the Mill burned down for the second time, by a fire of unknown cause. This fire left only the foundation and remnants of the building.
In 1973, Mr. Jewel Medlin purchased the property. Intrigued with the old mill foundation and its rich history. Jewel, his wife Leta and daughter Zoe Medlin Caywood, searched and found blueprints for the third Mill and took on the task of rebuilding it for the fourth time! The design was modified slightly to bring back the undershot waterwheel that Sylvanus had used over 100 years earlier. That is the same waterwheel system that has powered the Mill from 1973 to today. War Eagle Mill is the only working mill in Arkansas, and it is still powered by an eighteen-foot cypress waterwheel. We believe it to be the only undershot water wheel currently in operation in the United States. Zoe Medlin Caywood not only gave new life to the Mill, but over the next thirty-years she developed many new products that show up as ingredients in the clever "War Eagle Mill Cookbooks" she authored. All of Zoe's cookbooks are available for purchase by clicking here. These kitchen tested recipes introduce hungry readers to new tastes and textures utilizing fresh products and encourage experimenting with your own menus. It was Zoe's passion that fueled the Mill's stature in the Ozark region and her desire to see the Mill grow that led her to the next phase of War Eagle Mill's history.
In 2004, Zoe wanted to pass the Mill on to someone who loved it as much as she had over the 30 years her family owned the property. She found health-oriented business people and preservationists Marty & Elise Roenigk who had relocated to Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Today, the Roenigks are taking the Mill into new markets and households to further the availability and use of organic, natural products for healthy families. Visitors to War Eagle Mill relish the experience of seeing actual milling being done on site. Visiting the Mill is an interactive history lesson, as well as a true depiction of the tried and true slow process developed a century earlier that preserves the rich nutrients remaining in the grain.The Mill today holds true to the founder’s values: Use the finest quality grains, grind fresh daily, and keep your customers coming back for more!