Bollinger Mill State Historic Site is unusual in that it features both
a workable mill and a covered bridge, side by side. The Burfordville
Covered Bridge is the oldest of the four covered bridges still remaining
in Missouri. In early America, the building of water-powered mills
usually were followed by the formation of nearby towns. In Missouri, the
cool, clear streams of the Ozarks were ideal for water-powered mills and
many early communities owe their origin to these mills. After receiving
a Spanish land grant, George Frederick Bollinger led a group of families
from North Carolina to this area and in 1800 began construction of a
mill and dam on the Whitewater River. The mill quickly became a success
and by the 1820s a road linked Bollinger Mill with the surrounding
communities. Bollinger himself became well known, entered politics, and
served as a senator in Missouri's first general assembly.
mill and dam was originally constructed from logs and was rebuilt in
stone in 1825. This limestone foundation and dam are still visible
today. After Bollinger died in 1842 his daughter, Sarah Daugherty, and
her two sons continued to operate the mill. During the Civil War, Union
forces burned the mill to prevent the passing of flour and meal into
rebel hands. Only the stone foundation survived. After the war, the
family sold the mill and 640 acres to Solomon R. Burford. Burford
rebuilt the mill of brick upon the original stone foundation and it is
this four-story stone and brick mill that was completed in 1867that
visitors can see today.
was also at this time that the town of Burfordville came into existence.
Construction of a covered bridge, begun before the Civil War, was
completed in 1868 and linked Burfordville to the main road. Made from
nearby yellow poplar trees, the bridge was built by Joseph Lansmon, a
well-known builder from Cape Girardeau. He used a Howe truss design,
wherein diagonal wooden compression members are used with vertical iron
rods in tension to form trusses. Historical records show that there was
a toll house on the east end of the 140-foot-long bridge.
1897 to 1953, the mill was owned by the Cape County Milling Co. After
the milling company went out of business in 1953, the mill was sold to
the Vandivort family, relatives of George F. Bollinger. The Vandivorts,
interested in seeing the mill preserved, donated it to the Cape
Girardeau County Historical Society in 1961, who in turn donated it to
the state in 1967. That same year, the Missouri legislature authorized
the state park system to maintain all four of Missouri's remaining
Bollinger Mill State Historic Site features a tree-shaded picnic area, a
quarter-mile of stream bank, fishing in the Whitewater River, and a
historical cemetery where the remains of George Frederick Bollinger and
members of his family rest. The first floor is accessible and self
guided with interpretive labels. Interpreters are available to provide
information and answer questions at the Park Office. Burfordville Covered Bridge is
open to pedestrian traffic only. The side-by-side historic structures
provide an excellent setting for artists and photographers. Both the
Bollinger Mill and the Burfordville Covered Bridge are in the National
Register of Historic Places.
Notes on accessibility:
this time, parking is gravel and the mill is accessed over natural turf.
A 9.8 percent railed ramp allows access to the front porch and the first
floor of the mill. An asphalt path with a 6.5 percent slope leads to the
bridge, which has a one-inch threshold. The wooden bridge approaches
have up to four-inch discrepancies in height. Note that the far side of
the bridge has a three-inch threshold upon contacting the asphalt. The
site office has level gravel parking with an adjacent concrete path. A
railed ramp takes you to the front entrance.