Looking to return to the pleasures of a simpler time? Or maybe check out a blast-from-the-past social hotspot? A visit to Murray’s Mill in Catawba may just be the place.
“You met your future spouse while you were waiting to have your grain ground,” said Jennifer Marquardt, site manager at Murray’s Mill Historic District.
Today, the site includes both a working mill and the Murray & Minges General Store. Grinding demonstrations are held the fourth Sunday of the month using original grinding stones. Refreshments, sweets, and souvenirs can be purchased at the general store but many products on display are for show and not for sale.
Murray’s Mill was founded by William Murray in 1883 with his sons John and O.D. Murray. In 1906, John and O.D. purchased the property from their father, according to Marquardt; O.D. primarily worked out of the general store while John worked the mill.
In 1913, John began upgrading the mill with the current two-story structure. A 22-foot overshot waterwheel was added but then later replaced by a 28-foot waterwheel in 1938 during a second renovation by John’s son, Lloyd.
Marquardt said farmers wishing to use the mill would bring their wheat and John would grind it for them. Farmers wouldn’t typically leave with the same product they brought in. Instead, they would trade the wheat for some that was previously ground. Farmers often did, however, wait for their own corn to be ground because each person’s preference varied.
John Murray’s daughter married Frank Minges, who is related to the same family who started the Pepsi Bottling Group, Marquardt said. In 1967, Murray’s Mill closed and in 1980, the Catawba County Historical Association began work on restoring the mill; it reopened to the public in 1988.
John Murray’s home is currently receiving renovations and once completed, will be open for public viewing. The home is furnished with time-period items that he would have had in his home, Marquardt said.
Also on the site, there are two walking trails that present opportunities to see beautiful scenery and wildlife. Additionally, there are nine picnic tables on the 15-acre lawn and a 28-acre pond is not too far from there.