Prater's Mill
County:Whitfield
City:Varnell
Type:Mill
Benjamin Franklin Prater was born in 1826 in present-day Louden County, Tennessee. He moved to the Peach State in the early 1850's along with his wife Amanda. On the banks of Coahulla Creek north of Dalton Prater built a mill with slave labor that was completed in the summer of 1855.

Fair at Prater's Mill
Prater's Mill Fair
Photo courtesy Dalton CVB
Before The Trail of Tears the area now known as Prater's Mill was inhabited by the Rattling Gourd Family and this area of Cohulla Creek was called Fish Trap Shoals. This land was given to the settlers in the Sixth Georgia Land Lottery (1832). The tremendous economic expansion during the 1850's allowed Prater to add a blacksmith shop and a general store. During the war both Union and Confederate Cavalry used the mill as a camp site. In February, 1864, during the Battle of Dug Gap, Colonel Eli Long of the Army of the Cumberland (Union) and 600 of his horsemen spent the night. In April of that year 2,500 cavalrymen under the command of Confederate General Joseph Wheeler set up camp at the mill.

By 1900 what best could be described as a rural industrial complex had been built, driven by the waters of the Cohulla. The businesses owned by Mr. Prater included the mill and a nearby store, at least one warehouse, a cotton gin, blacksmith shop and a number of tenant farmers.

Prater's Mill was in operation for nearly a century. The Praters sold the mill in 1953 and after a succession of owners it closed, one the last operating mills in the United States.

In 1995 arsonists set fire to the old mill, heavily damaging one wall and blowing out the windows. Two people have been convicted of the crime and restoration has begun.

During the 2nd weekend of May and October the Prater's Mill Fair attracts visitors for across the United States, the only time the mill and building are open to casual visitors. During the rest of the year the grounds are open and are popular for fishing, picnicking, and family reunions. The mill is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Visit Prater's Mill


Location: Georgia State Road 2. East of Varnell, GA
Directions: I75, exit 341, north on Highway 201 for 4.5 miles, then right on Highway 2 for 2.6 miles. The mill is on the left.
Additional information:
Telephone:706.694.6455
Date added: November 16, 2003
Last update: December 7, 2003



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