Approaching from the south, you round a bend, and suddenly, you’re glancing out over a verdant plain below, green dotted with the red of farm buildings and the far-off site of a three-story structure. That is your destination.
You snake down the side of the hill, roll out into a field and wonder at the sign that states, “War Eagle Craft Mill, next 10 exits.” Exits? You’re in a cow field, for heaven’s sake! Roll right with the road, down past a couple barn-type buildings on the right and a couple houses on the left, and then, you’re at the bridge.
The big gravel lot to the right is usually dotted with cars and motorcycles, sometimes with people just getting out of their vehicles, stretching their legs and visiting the facilities on the far side of the lot. Sometimes, there will be children there with handfuls of corn from the converted candy machine, toddling after the ducks and geese that tend to wander up from the river below. Sometimes, there’s just the hum of the afternoon and the swish of the waterwheel.
Shoppers come and go, checking out the paper bags of flour, cornmeal and grains or sampling some of the dips and jellies that are thoughtfully shared. There are jams, salsas, cookies
But the scent drives you farther upward, and you find yourself in the Bean Palace, the third floor of the mill, with a hard-to-deny menu of simple things, such as beans and cornbread, a cornbread sandwich or, heaven help us, cobbler. Bits of history
For generations, the power of the War Eagle River has been harnessed to mill grain for the Ozarks. Farmers would bring bags and bushels of corn and wheat from their fields to the mill to have the grain ground for their bread and sustenance. The mill’s history spans back to 1832, when the first mill and dam were built by Sylvanus and Catherine Blackburn. The first mill washed away in a flood in 1848. The second, built on the foundation of the first, became the heart of a community with an attached sawmill and a blacksmith shop, church and school all on the same property. It was destroyed by Confederate troops, burned to the ground three days before the Battle of Pea Ridge in 1862.
The wheel goes whenever it goes—all the time. That’s the nature of running water. The mill is open every day during most of the year, and every
Then there are the fairs. Every May and October, these massive events take over the landscape and bring thousands to the area, ninety thousand in the spring and over a quarter million in the fall. For a few days each year, War Eagle becomes the biggest town in Arkansas (yes, even bigger than Little Rock) with vendors, live entertainment and arts and crafts. It’s hard to imagine—looking out from the window on the third floor of the mill and savoring a cornbread sandwich—the pastoral landscape beyond the river, green and quiet.
Still, much of the sales come from folks who make the pilgrimage from Rogers or Harrison or Eureka Springs and load up on the bags of flours and jars of jam and preserves. There’s been some small controversy with fans over the recent move to paper bags from the traditional cloth sacks replaced at the beginning of 2013, but the reasoning comes from the fact that most folks aren't making garments out of flour sacks any more.
War Eagle Mill is open every day through January 2nd, when the big three story red building on the War Eagle River will close for its annual cleaning. Even if you can't go before then, you can still order wareaglemill.com.
And you can try all sorts of great recipes here.
Want to learn more about classic restaurants near and around War Eagle Mill? Check out Classic Eateries of the Ozarks and Arkansas River Valley.
War Eagle Mill & Bean Palace Restaurant
11045 War Eagle Road
Rogers, AR 72756