Vintage Ozarks

Photographic print, 7 inches by 12 inches unmarked but unmistakably Redings Mill.

Redings Mill is long gone, but survives as a place name

There were actually two smaller early mills on Shoal Creek south of Joplin but the third mill was an impressive, multi-story structure of stone, burr and white oak, built in 1868 by John S. Reding. 

It burned on Nov. 8, 1936, but its visual and historic influence survives. Before its demise, it was considered the most photographed structure in Southwest Missouri. 

There are many snapshots as well as postcards and professional photographs. This image is phenomenally detailed. Two women looking at boats below the dam give scale to the commanding building.
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In the 1920s an extensive entertainment destination was developed; a resort with swimming pool, golf course, and hotel with dining room to seat 150. A dance “palace” and casino opened in 1928. 

Of course, soon after, the Depression affected business. Two major fires hit the resort, one in 1932 and one in 1936 that destroyed the dance hall. The foreclosure sale in 1941 marked its official end. 

Today, there is a village entity called Redings Mill, which is part of the Joplin area. Restaurants and services still attach Redings Mill to their name. Watermills were central to pioneer communities, both economically and socially. That imprint is still alive today. 

(Photo courtesy of Lens & Pen books, available on, and at Barnes & Noble.)

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