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Fred Lynch

Bollinger Mill at Burfordville restored

Posted Monday, August 22, 2016, at 12:00 AM

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Aug. 17, 1981 Southeast Missourian

The over-century-old Bollinger Mill at Burfordville has been restored to how it appeared in the late 1880s. The water-powered grist mill machinery has been refurbished and is now operational. Below, state Rep. Marvin Proffer addresses the crowd at the dedication of the mill on Sunday, Aug. 16, 1981 in Burfordville.

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State Senator John C. Dennis of Benton cuts the ribbon with the assistance of John A. Karel, director of the Division of Parks and Historic Preservation. The ceremony marked the official opening of the mill to the public. Below, the huge gearwork which utilizes the water for power.

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Mill wheels turn memories to time gone by

By Mark Bliss

BURFORDVILLE - A part of Cape County history came to life Sunday at the dedication of the historic Bollinger Mill here.

As the crowd looked on, state Rep. Marvin E. Proffer of Jackson slowly turned the wheel which brought the water-powered grist mill to life. Its large metal wheels, silent for decades, began turning, grinding corn.

For the visitor, walking through the cavernous four-story brick and limestone structure was like walking through another century.

Bringing this part of history to life has taken years of work. Sunday's dedication marked the end of almost 15 years of restoration effort since the 21-acre historic site was donated by the Cape County Historical Society to the state in 1967.

The historic site includes a covered wood bridge, which has spanned the Whitewater River here since its completion in 1868.

A crowd of about 500 attended the 2 p.m. dedication.

"It's a very beautiful site," remarked Fred A. Lasfer, director of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, who gave the dedication address.

He noted there is only one other site in the country where a covered bridge and mill are located adjacent to each other and that's in New York.

The Bollinger Mill is one of four mills in the state park system. "Truly, it's one of the finest mills that one will have the opportunity to visit," Lasfer said.

"The mill was obviously a source of important power. Missouri became the last state in the westward migration that could really benefit from this (water mill) power."

He noted that a mill has stood on this site for almost 200 years, since 1799. The acreage which surrounds Bollinger mill was first given to George F. Bollinger in 1797 in a Spanish land grant which stipulated that the land be developed to attract settlers to the wilderness area.

Bollinger erected the first grist mill. In 1825, he built a new mill which was burned by Union troops during the Civil War. The mill was rebuilt in 1867 by S.R. Burford, for whom the town of Burfordville is named.

The mill has been restored to how it appeared approximately 100 years ago. "The machinery essentially sets you back in time to before the turn of the century. We took great care to make it as authentic as possible," Lasfer explained.

According to Lasfer, the mill has undergone five major stages of restoration. The last stage involved hiring a millwright to refurbish the equipment and make it operational.

The Department of Natural Resources director encouraged those persons who possess old newspapers, photographs or other information about the mill to contact Park Administrator Nancy Honerkamp. He said the state is interested in preserving the history of the structure.

"I think this is one of the most impressive and important sites in our state park system," Lasfer stated.

"We have preserved history in our mill," noted Proffer in remarks to the crowd. He recalled that as a boy he would ride in wagon to the mill. "I enjoyed those days and I'll never forget them."

Proffer praised the efforts of former State Sen. Albert M. Spradling Jr. in getting the restoration project off the ground.

Of all the historic sites in Missouri, Proffer maintained there is "none with more history behind it and none more inviting."

"This is sort of a community project. It has been from the beginning," noted John A. Karel, director of the Division of Parks and Historic Preservation.

State Sen. John C. Dennis of Benton also spoke at the dedication, which was followed by a free public tour of the historic structure.

The dedication marks the opening of the mill to the public. The mill will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, and from noon to 4 p.m. on Sundays. Admission fees are $1 for adults and 50 cents for children over age five.

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  • Wow, the Proffers all tend to look alike.

    Proud to call them my kin!

    -- Posted by WomanMarine on Mon, Aug 22, 2016, at 9:08 PM