The beautiful red Dillard Mill is one of the state’s best-preserved grist mills. After the original Wisdom Mill was destroyed in a fire in 1895, the Dillard Mill was built on the site in 1908. Dillard Mill was central to the community; it was the place where the local farmers brought their grain to be ground into flour until it finally closed in 1956. Most of the machinery is still intact and the tour guides can demonstrate how the mill used to operate. The park also has plenty of places to hike, picnic or fish.
Picnic table overlooking Dillard Mill
Just a few miles away, you can buy supplies at the rebuilt, “Pucky Huddle General Store” on your way to Red Bluff Campground where you can spend the afternoon enjoying a world-class swimming hole.
Pucky Huddle General Store, Davisville
About 25 minutes up the road, you can book a float trip with one of the many operators in Steelville. (Just a warning—the weekends can get really rowdy on the river, so if you are looking for a more serene float, consider Sunday afternoon-Thursday.) While in Steelville, grab a bite to eat at the Dairy Isle, some ribs or steak at Missouri Hick, homemade ice cream at The Fountain or excellent coffee at Art and Joe. Plan some time to visit the beautifully restored Lange General and local antique stores.
The Fountain, Downtown Steelville
In the last few years, Steelville has been experiencing a renaissance of sorts. STARCO (Steelville Arts Council) has been very active in developing the local artist community. Empty storefronts have transformed into Gallery Zeke (featuring both new and well known Missouri artists), Yadkin Creek Mercantile where you can shop for local artists’ work, and the newest addition on Main Street, a pottery studio where you can take classes with expert potters, or for a small fee, rent studio space for the day to work on your own projects. STARCO has exciting events happening throughout the year. Be sure to check the calendar at: www.steelvilleartscouncil.org. If you love music, Wildwood Lodge is famous for their concert series—check out the schedule at: www.wildwoodspringslodge.com. Meramec Music Theatre concerts throughout the year feature gospel and country music. (www.meramecmusictheatre.com). The Fountain combines gourmet dinners with world-class musicians—you can find out more at www.thesodafountain.us. Or, if you just want to make your own music, join local musicians every 3rd Saturday evening at 6:30 for Mic and Jam at Gallery Zeke.
If you head east out of Steelville on Highway 8, then turn left on Route E, you will be on the scenic back drive to the Huzzah Wildlife Area and then on to Onondaga Cave State Park, one of Missouri’s famous limestone caves.
Other attractions in the area are Elephant Rocks State Park, Johnson’s Shut Ins, and Meramec Spring Park.
Also, don’t forget to sample Missouri wines at Peaceful Bend Winery in Steelville, Edg-Clif Vineyards outside of Potosi, and our newest addition, Red Moose Vineyard (down highway 19 towards Salem).