Spring Break day 4 - Great Smoky Mountain National Park - Oconaluftee Visitor Center & Mingus Mill
Oconaluftee Visitor Center - Great Smoky Mountains National Park - NC Travel Blog› entry 801 of 1090 › view all entries
After 4 days of travel I arrived in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. For more information about the park see one of the following blog entries. The park starts at the end of the Blue Ridge Parkway, just outside the Cherokee Indian Reservation, in which the last 9 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway are located.
Like almost any National Park, Great Smoky Mountains has a visitor center located at the entrance. Since there are many entrances to the park there are actually several of them. I entered at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center, the newest in the collection, only opened in April last year!
Inside, the visitor center is set up like almost any other NPS center. Outside, however, it features a very nice little open air museum, the Mountain Farm Museum.
Very close to the visitor center is Mingus Mill. This structure has not been moved and because of that it can still operate. Mingus Mill, the largest mill in the Smokies, is a very unusual one. Constructed in 1886, the mill does not use the conventional water wheel (like e.g. the Mabry Mill, see previous blogs) but a sophisticated water pressure driven turbine. The water is, like for a conventional Mill, provided via a wooden flume but then poured into a tall penstock that allows the gravitation to build up pressure, which drives the mill's mechanism.
Mingus Mill operated until 1930 when the park was founded. The Mingus family sold the structure to the National Park Service, which is still operating this unique facility.
More pictures below!