Watkins Woolen Mill State Park and State Historic Site
|Watkins Woolen Mill State Park|
|Missouri State Park|
|Elevation||896 ft (273 m) |
|Area||1,442 acres (584 ha) |
|Management||Missouri Department of Natural Resources|
|Visitation||479,138 (2014) |
|Website: Watkins Mill State Park|
|Nearest city||Excelsior Springs, Missouri|
|Area||560 acres (230 ha)|
|NRHP Reference #||66000416|
|Added to NRHP||September 28, 1983|
|Designated NHLD||November 13, 1966|
Watkins Mill, in Lawson, Missouri, is a preserved woolen mill dating to the mid-19th century. The mill is protected as Watkins Mill State Historic Site, which preserve its machinery and business records in addition to the building itself. The historic site is the centerpiece of 1,442-acre (584 ha) Watkins Woolen Mill State Park. The property became part of the Missouri state parks system in 1964. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1966 in recognition for its remarkable state of preservation.
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.
The site also includes the Watkins house, dating to 1850. The twelve-room, 2½-story house includes three staircases, the main stair detailed in carved walnut. It remained a Watkins family home until 1945.
The Franklin School, or Octagonal School, is an octagonal schoolhouse built in 1856 and 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.
The Watkins family 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.
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.
- List of Missouri state parks
- List of National Historic Landmarks in Missouri
- National Register of Historic Places listings in Clay County, Missouri
- "Watkins Mill State Park". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey.
- "Watkins Mill State Park: Preamble for the Conceptual Development Plan". Missouri State Parks. Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved October 1, 2014.
- "Historic Site History at Watkins Woolen Mill State Historic Site". Missouri State Parks. Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved August 13, 2015.
- "Missouri State Park Attendance (2014)" (PDF). Missouri State Parks. 2015. Retrieved August 12, 2015.
- Lissandrello, Stephen (April 2, 1976). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination Form: Watkins Mill" (PDF). National Park Service. Retrieved June 1, 2009.
- "Listing of National Historic Landmarks by State: Missouri" (PDF). National Park Service. Retrieved August 13, 2015.
- "Photographs of Watkins Mill, house and schoolhouse" (PDF). NRHP database. National Park Service. Retrieved June 1, 2009.
- "Camping at Watkins Mill State Park". Missouri State Parks. Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved October 1, 2014.
- "Watkins Mill State Park". Missouri State Parks. Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved October 1, 2014.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Watkins Woolen Mill.|
- Watkins Woolen Mill State Park and State Historic Site Missouri Department of Natural Resources
- Friends of Watkins Woolen Mill Watkins Mill Association