The Murray’s Mill historical complex is just off of Interstate 40 between Hickory and Statesville, and is roughly a ten minute ride after exiting the highway. This National Register Historic Site contains the 1913 mill, the renovated 1890’s Murray and Minges General Store, the 1880’s Wheat House, and the 1913 John Murray House. Murray’s Mill was built by John Murray, whose father, William, had operated a mill on the site since 1883. In 1906, William deeded the property to his sons, John and O.D. In 1907, John Murray acquired a 5/6 interest from his brother O.D., who would take over operation of the general store. In 1913, John replaced his father’s mill with the current two-story structure, adding a 22’ overshot waterwheel, in lieu of the former turbine. Making room for the mill’s expansion, the Murrays moved the general store to its present location. In 1938, John’s son, Lloyd, raised the dam six feet and installed the 28’ waterwheel. (It’s said that William’s original wooden dam stands beneath the surface of the present pond.) Inside Murray’s Mill, visitors will find William’s original one-ton French buhr millstones for grinding corn, as well as Sprout & Waldron roller mills that John installed for grinding wheat into flour. All of the mill’s storage bins, each partitioned by tongue and groove sheathing, have been preserved, too. When the Catawba County Historical Association overtook the mill’s restoration in 1980 the bins still held flour from the day Lloyd Murray shut the doors due to bureaucratic red tape and increasing taxes. (courtesy Catawba History.org)
When Lloyd Murray shut the doors to Murray’s Mill in 1967 he did just that, leaving just about everything required of a working grist mill sealed inside. This site is extremely well preserved and contains all of the interior machinery and equipment found in a working 1900’s grist mill. If visiting the site make time to tour both the interior of the mill and surrounding buildings on the site. The Murray and Minges General Store has also been faithfully restored and is a step back in time to the 1890’s. Seeds, bolts of cloth and a cold Pepsi can still be found here, just as they were in the 1890’s. The Murray’s Mill site is a classic representation of conservation, interpretation and dedication and should be a stop on any history buffs itinerary.
Donations for ongoing maintenance and repairs to the site can be made to the Catawba County Historical Association.