History

A huge celebration took place in 1888 with the opening of the Ripley & Mill Creek Valley Railroad. (Courtesy of Mike McGrew)

A huge celebration took place in 1888 with the opening of the Ripley & Mill Creek Valley Railroad. (Courtesy of Mike McGrew)

A trip along Mill Creek is much like paddling through the history of Jackson County.

Grist mills, once the focal point of agricultural communities, have been located on the banks of Mill Creek since one first opened near present day Cottageville in 1799. Daniel D. Rhodes operated a mill there at the time of the Civil War. Accused of aiding the Union cause, he was held in a Confederate prison in Tennessee for two years. The mill was destroyed by fire in 1963.

Mill Creek flows past the Jackson County Fairgrounds at Cottageville. The land was originally secured by the county in 1843 as the area’s poor farm.

Jacob Starcher constructed the first mill at present-day Ripley in 1824. Starcher donated the land for the county’s courthouse square. Valley Mill was operating in the Ripley area until 1930. Established in 1832, the town was named for Harry Ripley, a circuit riding minister who drowned in Mill Creek.

The valley’s train schedule circa 1950.

The valley’s train schedule circa 1950.

The Ripley & Mill Creek Valley Railroad went into business in 1888, serving the transportation needs of the region from Millwood to Ripley. Later operated by the B&O Railroad, the local line made stops in Cottageville, Angerona, Evans and the depot in Ripley until 1963. The station is still used as a retail business.

Mill Creek once featured several covered bridges. The 1887 span on the Tug Fork at Staats Mill would have been lost due to the Mill Creek Watershed System of flood control dams. The bridge was preserved by being relocated to the Cedar Lakes Conference Center.

Article courtesy of Mike Ruben