Signs of progress on display as Kerr Mill water wheel nears completion

Published 12:07 am Wednesday, June 15, 2022

MT. ULLA — Visitors to Sloan Park on Tuesday afternoon were met with quite the surprise while passing the historic Kerr Mill located within the park grounds.

The mill’s water wheel,  part of the site since it was originally built in 1823, is turning with water from Kerr Creek for the first time in years.

The original water wheel deteriorated over time but a replica was built in 1989, which the Post covered extensively both at the time and in more recent stories about the restoration efforts since.

While the replica also eventually started to suffer from wear and tear, Rowan County dedicated over $40,000 toward rebuilding the historic wheel beginning earlier this spring.

On Tuesday, the fruits of the restoration project started to become visible as the water wheel turned   yet again, creating a scenic view for groups of people who happened to be passing by.

Rocky Cain, supervisor of Sloan Park, noted that the project is still only about “halfway complete” and that a trough, fencing and some other additions will be installed around the wheel. The park expects to have these projects complete in the next few weeks, with plans for the water wheel and the area immediately around it to be fully restored in mid-July.

This will mark the end of a long journey toward bringing a piece of Rowan County history back to life. The water wheel and Kerr Mill were part of the original Mill Bridge settlement and remain a point of pride for residents who visit the park.

As the Kerr Mill approaches its bicentennial in 2023, the prospect of it not only having an operational water wheel again but fully restored grounds area around it should serve to further create community pride.

Cain said he was looking forward to offering such a “great sight” for visitors at the park to enjoy.

For now, while the work may not be quite finished, signs of progress are cause for optimism in the area and for Rowan County as a whole.

In the meantime, Sloan Park still offers a host of other activities for visitors to enjoy and participate in including sprawling nature trails, a disc golf course, a public amphitheater and more. Further information about this park and the Kerr Mill can be found at