In the rolling hills of eastern Catawba County, Murray’s Mill is located where it was nearly a century ago: on the banks of Balls Creek.
John Murray built the mill in 1913. His father, William, had operated a mill on the site since 1883. In 1906, William deeded the property to his sons, John and Ollie. In 1907, John Murray acquired a 5/6 interest from his brother Ollie, who would take over the operation of the family general store. In 1913, John replaced his father’s mill with the current two-story structure, adding a 22’ overshot waterwheel to replace the former turbine. 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).
Three generations of the Murray Family operated the mill before bureaucratic red tape and increasing taxes forced Lloyd Murray, John’s son, to close its doors in 1967. The mill was the last one in the Catawba County, so the Catawba County Historical Association (CCHA) worked to restore it. Preservation efforts started in 1980. When they were complete, the CCHA in 1986 held an opening ceremony that attracted such notables as North Carolina Governor James G. Martin.
Murray’s Mill is now a National Register Historic Site and open to the public. There, visitors will find William’s original, one-ton French buhr millstones, for grinding corn, as well as a Eureka roller mill 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. Murray’s Mill is a short drive from Interstate 40.