About an hour’s drive from Atlanta lies the historic town of Rome, Georgia. An hour’s drive and about 50 years away. Much of this town was constructed in the late 1800s and first half of the 20th century but I will save a history of Rome for some other day. Today I had a mission: the Old Mill at Berry College.
Berry College is situated about 5 mins out of town and is a haven of tranquility, even on a day when all prospective students were being interviewed for the upcoming school year. To study in such a tranquil place must be good for your grades, if not for your social life. Surrounded by acres and acres of fields, deer, horses and squirrels….it feels more like a holiday camp, removed from the realities of everyday life (and the townspeople).
A delightfully helpful student admitted me through the main barrier, with a simple look at my driver’s licence. It did make me wonder who would be turned away and what they were looking for exactly, since my licence is British and very unfamiliar to most Americans. She provided me with a map and driving directions to the Old Mill which lay at the far end of the property. About 10 mins drive found me arriving at this charming spot.
This mill hub is made of iron and was constructed in the 1930s. It was operational for many years and was used to grind cornmeal for the students and also for sale as far away as California. Currently, it is only used on special occasions, including on Mountain Day, a festival held in October.
The wheel itself is a marvel to behold, as at 42 feet in diameter it is the second largest water wheel in the world. It dwarves the mill building (which is closed most of the time) and is beautifully reflected in the still water. On this cold winter’s day the colours were fabulous but I suspect it will look even more amazing in the fall and have made a note to return later in the year.
The place is very peaceful and although a few people drove down to the mill, almost nobody made the effort to actually get out of their car thereby missing out on the real charm of the place – peace and quiet.
After leaving the mill, I purposefully threw the map in the back of the car and got lost in the grounds. An old school and church dating from the 1930s was found on the grounds, with the school room set up as it would have been during that time. A tiny cemetery was next to the church with the smallest markers, their words eroded by time and weather.
Fields of deer and horses could be seen – and again, hardly a person in sight – which is just as well as the deer were very skittish. The main area of the college was much busier and I think that this is where most people were hanging out. Being surrounded by such beauty might be wasted on students! 🙂