Small general stores used to be a staple for small Smoky Mountain towns. They supplied all the goods that a supermarket now carries, only it wasn’t produced in 10 different forms by 5 separate companies…. It was a simpler time of course. For people living in Pigeon Forge then, the current Old Mill was where the general store was. Since then, Pigeon Forge has grown drastically, and what is now the Old Mill Restaurant operate a general store to keep the old time feel from totally disappearing.
If you’re at the restaurant, do a little shopping for corn meal that was milled by the Mill’s own water wheel. You’ll also find a variety of area souvenirs. The Old Mill General Store is a landmark that everyone should see at least once in their life just to experience the idea of what it once was like…. how people lived back then.
Take notice as you’re traveling through Pigeon Forge and you’ll notice a sign at traffic light No. 6 for the Old Mill and Patriot Park. Take the turn onto Old Mill Avenue, past Outback Leather (on the right), before coming to a large water wheel on the right. You’ve come to the Old Mill General Store and the Old Mill Restaurant. Spend a few hours, or if you don’t have time come back the next day.
The walls and tables of the general store are lined with jams, jellies, cookbooks, souvenirs and of course sacks of flour and corn meal. It’s like you’ve stepped back to the turn of the last century, almost. The collectible Pigeon Forge t-shirts and things that greet you at the door probably weren’t around then. Our advice is to keep going until you reach an aisle. You’re sure to find something along the shelves that will just make your mouth water. Cookbooks from churches and organizations in the area (maybe even one by Dolly Parton herself), jams and jellies from the foothills of the Smokies, and of course flour and corn meal.
Buy a bag of flour or meal while you are at the general store, especially if you’ve never had natural corn meal or flour from a mill, not processed in some far off factory. Stop by and watch the mill at work while it’s in operation during the day. You’ll see the corn and wheat getting ground the old fashioned way. You’re witness to the making of a product that has been produced in this same location since 1830. Some things never change.