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If you asked me where one of the best places to take photographs in West Virginia is, I’d tell you Glade Creek Grist Mill at Babcock State Park.
This landmark is one of the most popular things to see and do in West Virginia. It has been drawing photographers, lovestruck couples, and nature watchers for decades!
This fully functional grist mill is an homage to the hundreds of mills that once operated along the streams and rivers of West Virginia, and it stands today as a beloved time capsule of a more bucolic past.
When my wife and I found out we were just a couple hours away from this photogenic landmark, we decided to check it out!
It was December when we visited, so the colors were not there for us. But you can see the true beauty and splendor of this place during the fall season via the photos and webcam at the bottom of this article.
Why Glade Creek Grist Mill Draws So Many Photographers To West Virginia
I don’t know if I’m a bona fide shutterbug or just someone who enjoys taking photos, but I was drawn to Glade Creek Grist Mill for the history as much as the views.
Let me tell you, it was an unforgettable feast for the senses around this landmark West Virginia mill…
The scenery will forever be emblazoned on my mind!
The stands of fir and carpeting of freshly fallen leaves on the chilly December day that we visited the mill provided a feast for our noses — a scent that teased our tongues with overtones of earth.
The wintry breeze through the trees tickled the sounds of water rushing down the boulder-bedded waterfall just feet from the mill.
The feel of the ancient Appalachian rocks and surefooted trees towering high above reminded me just how old this place is — it was here long before I came along and surely will look much as it does today long after I’m gone.
Where is Glade Creek Grill Mall?
I believe the otherworldliness of this place is owed to its relatively remote location way up in the Appalachian Mountains at Babcock State Park in West Virginia.
It’s so far removed from the hustle and bustle of life — accessible only by long, winding, two-lane blacktop mountain roads from the nearest highways and tucked into the mountains some 2,500 feet above sea level.
Babcock State Park covers 4,127 acres of mountainy terrain, with creeks, waterfalls, and other natural splendors dotting the wooded landscape.
Here are a few other attractions located nearby.
About The Mill Itself
Among Mother Nature’s glory stands a symbol of the classic Industrial Age: a wooden mill.
But it’s not just any mill. It’s Glade Creek Grist Mill — which is actually much newer than you may think, yet it has such historical significance to the communities that surround this beautiful park.
Glade Creek Grist Mill was dedicated in 1976 and is a fully functioning mill.
It was built in the fashion that so many mills once were in West Virginia. In fact, the state once boasted more than 500 mills much like the one at Babcock State Park. Unfortunately, the passage of time hasn’t been kind to most of these structures — which in West Virginia were built mainly during the 18th and 19th centuries.
This grist mill at Glade Creek is a replica of Cooper’s Mill — which once operated nearby decades earlier.
But Glade Creek Grist Mill is so much more than simply a reproduction of an old mill. This mill is symbolic of West Virginia’s past, when mills just like this one were grinding forward economies of towns large and small throughout the region.
Glade Creek Grist Mill may have been assembled in 1976, yet its heart and soul are much older:
- The mill’s primary structure was salvaged from Stoney Creek Grist Mill in nearby Pocahontas County:
- The huge water wheel is from Grant County’s Spring Run Grist Mill in the northeastern region of West Virginia.
- Onego Grist Mill in Pendleton County, which borders Virginia, provided many other components now enjoying a second life in the fully operable Glade Creek Grist Mill.
The mill was closed for the season when we visited in December. But during the height of the operating calendar, you can take a tour of Glade Creek Grist Mill and explore the history of this fascinating place and find out how mills like this one work.
What Is A Grist Mill Anyway?
I was pretty curious about this…
“Grist Mill” isn’t really the name of the famous mill in West Virginia. Instead, it describes the type of mill this is.
The primary function of a grist mill is to grind corn into cornmeal or wheat into flour.
And the word “grist”?
Well, that’s an old-timey word for cereal and/or grains.
How To Get To Glade Creek Grist Mill
The most famous grist mill in West Virginia is pretty easy to find once you get to Babcock State Park — which is about 20 miles from the scenic New River Gorge Bridge (which I also enjoyed, by the way).
But getting there is quite a drive, no matter where you’re coming from… unless you happen to live right near the park.
It’s a decent haul up mountain roads from either Interstate-64 or U.S. 60 — two main highways that cut across West Virginia in a roughly northwest to southeast orientation.
The closest town to this grist mill is Fayetteville. From Fayetteville you’ll want to head northeast on US-19 North for approximately 7 miles. Then, take US-60 South for about 10 miles. Turn right on WV-41 heading south for 3.7 miles until you see Babcock Road – turn right there and go another half-mile or so.
The Glade Creek Grist Mill GPS coordinates are 37.9794629, -80.9468428
How To Make The Most Of Your Visit To Glade Creek Grist Mill
- I suggest allowing at least 1 hour to visit Glade Creek Grist Mill — especially if you’re trying to get some good photographs, as so many do.
- You may find some of the best vantage points for getting photographs of the mill are on the boulders immediately near the creek. Be sure to wear really good shoes with terrific traction on slippery areas. And, as many of the signs at Babcock State Park remind visitors, you’re entering areas near the water at your own risk. Be careful…. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but no photograph is worth life or limb!
- Like flying your drone? The rules at the park state that this is a restricted drone fly zone. When we visited, you were allowed to fly drones for photographs in the general area of Glade Creek Grist Mill, but you could only fly them between the hours of 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. They couldn’t be flown over buildings or parking areas, and they were allowed a minimum of 20 feet from the grist mill. Check the rules before visiting the mill in West Virginia — they may be different by the time you read this!
- Make sure that you plan to leave a good half hour or so before it gets dark — the winding roads getting out of the park and back to the major highways are not well lit. We encountered many deer crossing the road during twilight — several we didn’t see until almost the last moment. We didn’t hit a deer, but it surely was a nerve-wracking drive in the dark.
Fall Glade Creek Grist Mill Photos
To witness the Autumn beauty that surrounds this West Virginia grist mill each year, try to plan your visit for September or October. (Peak colors are typically mid-October):
See what the view is like at Glade Creek Grist Mill today via the Glade Creek Grist Mill WEBCAM!
I’m a Florida native, a roller coaster junkie, and a frequent traveler. (Long road trips are my favorite.) Born and raised in Tampa, I grew up visiting Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. I authored the book Busch Gardens Tampa Bay: Images of Modern America, which details the colorful history of the Busch Gardens theme park. As a local historian, I’ve also written about other popular landmarks and attractions for a variety of publications. Here, on this Travel Guide, I like sharing little-known facts and fun stuff about all the places I’ve been — so you will have a good idea of what those places are like and what you should know before you go. I especially enjoy helping others plan fun trips… on a budget!