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Ely's Mill on Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail

elys mill

Established in 1925, Ely's Mill is family owned and operated. Built by Andrew Jefferson Ely, Ely's Mill now offers a unique craft and antique shop. A. J. Ely, known as "Old Man Ely," was a Yale law school graduate, a practicing Tennessee lawyer and a printer.

Disenchanted with city life after the death of his wife, he bought a 30 acre tract in an effort to live a healthy life. He preached against smoking and strong drink -- coffee, tea, alcohol -- along with the evils of various foods, including milk, salt, white bread, and "store bought" food. He advocated eating fresh vegetables, honey, bananas, buttermilk and lots of spring water. For years, the old Lines Bakery made a special bread from his flour. There was no subject he felt lukewarm about; politics, taxes, marriage, youth, religion, and other topics. It's been told that if he liked you he'd talk with your for hours, but if he didn't approve of you, he'd take the whole afternoon off just to tell you so.

Ely hired local craftsmen to build the mill and showroom to display their ware. Initially called The Water Wheel Craft Shop, the mill featured weaving and local crafts and also made solid wood furniture and sold antiques. The water wheel powered the machinery in the Furniture Shop - belt sanders - lathes, planers - by a system of pulleys and belts. The wheel itself is almost 30 feet in diameter and 8 feet wide. It was supplied with water from a race which came over the top of the buildings and begin 800 feet upstream.

As the place grew, more buildings were added: barns for livestock, sheds and chicken houses. A caretaker family lived here also to help tend the garden, keep bees and manage the animals and grounds. A hammer mill was built to crush and mix feeds. A blacksmith shop was added to repair tools and make parts. When the building was completed in the 1940's Ely's Mill had grown to almost twenty buildings.

Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail | Photo Tour

 


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