Dillard Mill | Off The Beaten Path, But Well Worth It

Dillard mill

An overnight stay in Salem, Missouri in December would cause many to ask: What, did you take a wrong turn in Rolla?  Are you running from the law?  Did your car stall coming through Salem, and you’re waiting for it to get fixed at Larson’s Collision Repair?  No, No, and I’m sure the Larsons do exceptional automotive work, but No!  To some, these are valid questions, but for others like me, Salem was the last vestige of hospitality for someone who wanted to wake up early to fly their Mavic 2 Pro, over Dillard Mill.

I love old Mills like Dillard Mill, especially from the perspective of a drone.  The crystal clear water, gently revealing the topography of the land underneath, is truly a site to see from this perspective.  The old mills rich color provides a stark contrast to the waters majestic colors, and the blue hue of the waterfall as it falls over the edge, confirms its frigid temperature.

Water Powered Mill

The Dillard Mill is a water-powered mill, because in 1900 when the mill opened, electricity was considered a luxury, not a necessity.  By building the mill next to the stream, it provided accessibility to ‘no cost’ energy which powered the tools in this old mill, most notably the millstone, seen below.  The Millstone was the ‘grinder’ which took the raw material and made it into a fine powder.

Dillard Mill

The Value of Milled Corn.

This Milling process produces mashed corn meal, corn flour, and corn bran which are used as a raw material in a number of common foods; such as breakfast cereals, snack foods, baked goods, beer, and even pet foods.  Dry milled products are even used in non-food items, like building materials, ceramics, pharmaceuticals, paper goods, and textiles.

Set-Up and Launch

Mother Nature was supposed to bring rain and heavier winds later in the afternoon, which may explain why I was the only one out flying my drone.  I mean, doesn’t everyone fly their drones on 30 degree winter mornings with a faint spitting of precipitation and gusting winds?   If you want to capture an image like this-you do!  If you want solitude and have no-one question why you’re there, even amongst the ever present hum of rotary propellers-you do!.  Come to think of it, this was a perfect morning.

Dillard MillI have to admit though, It almost felt like I was trespassing on someone else’s farm.  Perhaps it was the homes I passed by to get to the launch site, or maybe it was the cows enjoying the abundance of orchard grass which was covering the rolling hills, behind this picturesque Mill.  Either way, I felt like I was doing something wrong, which compelled me to remain incognito.  -if that’s even possible when a faint sound of roaring propellers is above you-.  It turns out, Dillard Mill is a privately owned property, though it’s run by the State of Missouri.   I didn’t see any of these signs so I believe it was all on the up and up.  If you’re planning on flying here, I think you’re safe.  Take it from me, this is well worth the cost of admission, oh wait there wasn’t any cost, even better!

Dillard Mill


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