Built in 1835 to mill grist for the proposed community of Beckleyville, now the City of Beckley, the Beckley Mill was commissioned by Alfred Beckley to be operational when he arrived in the wilderness of southwestern Virginia to develop a community there. The mill ruin was nominated by the W.Va. State Historic Preservation Office to be added to the National Register of Historic Places on February 25, 2017.
Historian David Sibray in his description of the mill ruin described its origin: “Before Alfred Beckley arrived in the wilderness of western Virginia to settle the lands left to him by his father, John James Beckley, he wrote to his maternal cousins, William and Clarkson Prince, who had already settled on nearby Beaver Creek, requesting that they establish a well-located gristmill, to be operational upon his arrival in 1835. The location they chose was just downstream of one of the few significant falls on Piney Creek, the only stream in the area that sustained an appreciable year-round flow. Their ambitious cousin’s plan to develop a viable settlement in the wilderness would depend on a reliable mill.”
Through the early 1900s the mill remained among the most significant in the region though its necessity was eclipsed by the advancement of railroads. Eventually the mill fell out of use, and access to the site was destroyed by development of a refuse dump operated by the city. By the 1950s the mill had fallen into ruin and the site was popularly forgotten.
In the late 1980s the Raleigh County Historic Landmarks Commission added the site to its register of historic places but the site was neglected until the 2012 when historians began to rally behind the rescue of the site. A series of pedestrian trails now leads to the site.
Map showing location of Alfred Beckley Mill
- Beckley’s old mill still offers hope for economic development
- City opens trail to Beckley mill ruin, now on National Register