Watkins Woolen Mill State Park and State Historic Site

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Coordinates: 39°24′04″N 94°15′37″W / 39.40111°N 94.26028°W / 39.40111; -94.26028
Watkins Woolen Mill State Park
Missouri State Park
Watkins Mill, County Highway MM, Lawson vicinity (Clay County, Missouri) crop1.jpg
Watkins Mill
Country United States
State Missouri
County Clay County
Coordinates 39°24′04″N 94°15′37″W / 39.40111°N 94.26028°W / 39.40111; -94.26028
Area 2.34 sq mi (6.06 km2)
Founded 1964
Website: http://mostateparks.com/wwmill/
Watkins Mill
Nearest city Excelsior Springs, Missouri
Built 1860
Architect Watkins,Waltus; Et al.
Architectural style No Style Listed
Governing body State
NRHP Reference # 66000416
Significant dates
Added to NRHP November 13, 1966[1]
Designated NHLD November 13, 1966[2]

Watkins Mill, in Lawson, Missouri, is a preserved woolen mill dating to the mid-19th century. Designated a National Historic Landmark on November 13, 1966, the mill is protected as Missouri's Watkins Mill State Historic Site which preserve its machinery and business records as well as the building itself. The historic site itself is the centerpiece of 1,500-acre (610 ha) Watkins Woolen Mill State Park.

Mill history[edit]

Watkins Mill was built in 1859-1860 by Waltus Watkins, who called it Bethany Plantation. Watkins built housing for the mill workers nearby, creating one of the first planned communities in North America. The community was effectively self-sufficient, the mill producing yarn and wool cloth. The mill operated at capacity until 1886, two years after Watkins' death. From 1886 to the turn of the twentieth century production declined. Nearly all of the mill machinery has been preserved, including a 65 horsepower steam engine that powered the factory.[3]

The site also includes the Watkins house, dating to 1850. The twelve-room 2-1/2 story house includes three staircases, the main stair detailed in carved walnut. It remained a Watkins family home until 1945.[3]

The Franklin School, or Octagonal School was built in 1856 and was used by the Watkins family and their employees until the mid-1870s, when it became a residence for mill workers. The unusual octagonal building was built of locally manufactured brick on Watkins land.[3]

The Watkins' also donated the land for Mt. Vernon Baptist Church, built in 1871 to replace a log church dating to the 1850s. Of the $5000 construction cost, more than half was donated by Watkins.[3]

The property became part of the Missouri state parks system in 1964, and it was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1966.[2]

State park[edit]

The recreation area of the state park has 96 campsites, most of which have electric hookups, and many of which are available year-round. A 100-acre (40 ha) lake supports fishing for bass, catfish, crappie and sunfish and has a large sand swimming beach. A 3.8-mile (6.1 km) asphalt bicycling and walking trail follows the shoreline of the lake, and there is a separate 3.5-mile (5.6 km) equestrian trail.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2008-04-15. 
  2. ^ a b "Watkins Mill". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved 2008-04-19. 
  3. ^ a b c d Lissandrello, Stephen (April 2, 1976). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination Form: Watkins Mill". National Park Service. Retrieved 2009-06-01. 
  4. ^ "Visit the Recreation Area". Watkins Woolen Mill State Park and State Historic Site. Missouri Department of Natural Resources. 2010-11-04. Retrieved 2010-11-17. 

External links[edit]