Ozarks Watch Magazine
Along Rocky Creek is a small turbine mill built by Walter Klepzig in 1928 --hence its name, Klepzig Mill. Walter, son of a Prussian German immigrant, was a progressive thinker. He was the first in the neighborhood to introduce both barbed and woven fence wire and a refined breed of milk cow. He sawed logs into boards for his house and out-buildings, and routinely saved "good boards" for use in building coffins for his neighbors. He frequently ground corn free for neighbors "on starvation," i.e. those who could ill afford to leave him the customary toll of grain.
Klepzig Mill is a type of building referred to in the vernacular as a "sawmill house." It was a building type that tended to replace log construction after the arrival of sawmills in a locale. A sawmill house could be erected quickly and by only one or two people. Instead of stud-wall framing, vertical planks were nailed to a hand-hewn sill at the bottom and a sawn two-by-four plate at the top. The resulting wall panels, fabricated flat on the ground, were then raised into place. Battens might then be added to cover the seams. Foundations were often piers of uncut and unmortared native stone.
Klepzig Mill is not much to look at with its various accouterments and modifications-- cement spillway, scrap metal hinge from the hood of a Model "A" Ford truck, old corrugated iron roof. Still, it is in aspectacular setting, surrounded by the rhyolite rock of the "shut in" canyon made by Rocky Creek. It is a lasting testament to the hardships of every day life in the Ozarks in a time not so long ago.
To reach Klepzig Mill take Highway H (east of Eminence and Winona) to Highway NN. You'll pass the sign for Rocky Falls, this is a pleasant stop also. Turn left on County Road #522. This dirt road can be very muddy and is narrow, not recommended for large motorhomes or trailers. Klepzig Mill is less than a mile on the right. There is no sign or defined parking area, and it's easy to miss in summer vegetation, so watch carefully. It is also possible to hike to Klepzig Mill from Rocky Falls along the Ozark Trail, or park at the end of the pavement on NN and walk up the dirt road. (Don't block traffic!)
Did You Know?
Ozark National Scenic Riverways' glades are rocky, desert-like area on hilltops. Kept open by periodic fires, they are home to collared lizards, tarantulas, scorpions, cacti and other species more typical of the desert southwest. More at www.nps.gov/ozar More...