A historic mill in Rockingham County is getting a new lease on life. The Plains Mill, nestled in Timberville, might soon evolve into a fresh site for history buffs, fans of craft distilleries, and even weddings.
The Plains Mill goes back to the 1800s, where farmers in the Shenandoah Valley once used the site to clean and grind grains. It fell into disrepair over the past couple of decades, but now the new owner is ready to execute his grand vision.
Zach Grandle, owner of Plains Mill, has dreamed of opening his own distillery since growing up in the Shenandoah Valley.
"My goal is to completely restore the building, there's - as you can see - some work to be done. But overall, it's not unmanageable,” said Grandle.
By collaborating with government agencies and digging into the past, Grandle hopes to put plans into action this spring.
"We can welcome tourists in, and have daily milling demonstrations, and hopefully an event area as well for weddings,” said Grandle.
One of the focal pieces will be restoring the mill's wheel.
"The spring is one of the largest springs in the area. It averages about five million gallons a day. And we're looking to harness that power again,” said Grandle.
The site was last used as a trout farm.
In the coming months, Grandle hopes to rehabilitate the old buildings, set up a distillery and eventually host neighbors in the valley as well as draw in visitors.
"We will create bourbons, whiskeys, we'll use locally sourced grain for all the spirits that we make on site,” said Grandle.
For Grandle, this is more than a savvy business move to break into the world of agritourism. This is history and his heritage rekindled.
"This building, it means a lot to the local community, it's been here for a long time. I think that the community has been really supportive so far of me purchasing the property and wanting to fix it up,” said Grandle.
There's a lot of moving parts involved, but Grandle is hoping this all comes together and he can welcome the public to the finished site come this fall - in time for the 150th anniversary of the Civil War's Valley Campaign.