An Old Southern Mill


| June/July 1989



Decaying boiler.

Decaying boiler.

101 Tate Drive Newton, Alabama 36352

I will never forget the first time I saw the mill. At the time I was an impressionable teenager with a love for all types of old machinery. Fresh out of basic training, I had just been picked up at the local airport by a military taxi and was being driven to my next duty station where I was to attend flight school.

Riding through the Alabama countryside on a misty dark night, I was immediately impressed by how impoverished the various communities appeared. Most of the buildings along the roadside were either boarded up or had collapsed. Then I saw it. A large brick building off to the left which was slowly disintegrating. Long out of use and overgrown with trees, it was a powerful image that was etched in my memory.

During my stay in flight school, I had neither the time or the freedom to go out searching for old iron. I often thought about the old building and what it might hold in store. I imagined a treasure trove full of rusting machinery just waiting for me to rediscover.

Many years later I returned to the same base. This time I was to perform duties as a flight instructor and I had much more free time than I had when I was a student. Many times I set out to find the old mill but I was always diverted by other finds.

Returning from a trip to a nearby town to see a friend's recently acquired Fairbanks Morse diesel, I spotted the mill again. The image locked in with the picture I had in my mind for all those years.