Hagood Mill is a historic site in Pickens, South Carolina. It’s an authentic slice of Americana and makes a great day trip.
One of the finest regional examples of nineteenth-century technology can be found just three miles north of Pickens, SC. Located just off Highway 178, this 1845 gristmill served many generations of rural farm families until its closing in the mid-1960s.
Farmers only got paid once per year and that was when—and if—their cash crop was sold. Gristmills like the Hagood Mill made farm life possible by taking a “toll” of the corn ground instead of charging money. Before refrigeration, in the hot summertime, corn meal only had a shelf life of about two weeks, so the old “corn mill” was a place the farmers depended on and visited frequently.
In the 1960s, the Federal Government passed regulations requiring the farmers’ corn to be tested before grinding, and also, requiring preservatives. This effectively shut down most of the gristmills nationwide and Pickens County was no exception.
I specifically went to listen to the live folk, blues, and bluegrass music, but I was impressed to see the gristmill still in operation.
Here’s the corn being ground. Larger pieces become grits. Finer pieces become cornmeal.
Musicians gather all around the site.
You’ll find a blacksmith shop, cotton gin, moonshine still, and artisans peddling their wares. There’s usually live music on the third Saturday of every month, but check the Hagood Mill Facebook page for event listings before planning your trip. If you’ll be listening to live music, make sure to bring your own camp chair or you’ll be stuck in a metal folding chair at best, or on the hard ground at worst. There’s also a 3/4 mile hike around the site that’s fun for all ages.