500 Prater Mill Road NE
Now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Prater's Mill's heritage runs back to the days of the Cherokee Indians. Built by Benjamin Franklin Prater in 1855, the water powered mill was originally fitted with the latest in grain cleaning, grinding and sifting machinery, all powered by the Coahulla Creek.
As the mill's popularity grew, Prater added a cotton gin, a saw mill, a wool carder (device that combs sheep wool), a syrup mill, a general store and blacksmiths shop. For almost a century, farmers lined up their mules and wagons before dawn, waiting for their turn with the millers.
During the Civil War, the mill was used as a campsite by soldiers from both sides. While occupied by the Union army, the mill was considered a valuable resource for food and was not destroyed. The Prater family operated the Mill until the 1950's. A succession of millers ran it until the 1960's. In 1971, the all-volunteer Prater's Mill Foundation took over the Mill and began its extensive restoration and preservation efforts. Today, the mill is best known for the arts and crafts festivals held twice each year. Throughout the year, the grounds are a popular site for fishing, cookouts and family reunions.
Prater's Mill and the Civil War
• January 19, 1861 - Georgia secedes from the Union.
• October 1862 - The first Confederate troops arrive in Whitfield County.
• 1862-1863 - Benjamin Franklin Prater sells corn, hay, fodder, bacon, split rails and planks to the Confederacy for $1,591.17 Confederate dollars.
• 1863 - Ben Prater, age 37, enlists as a third lieutenant with Company I, First Regiment Georgia State Guards, also known as the Red Hill Home Guards.
• February 23, 1864 - Union forces under Colonel Eli Long camp at Prater's Mill with 350 mounted infantry, 250 Cavalry and 12 prisoners.
• April 13, 1864 - Confederate General Joseph Wheeler's Calvary camped at Prater's Mill.
• May 9, 1864 - Battle of Varnell's Station. General Joseph Wheeler, CSA, with 900 men, routed 5,000 Federals under Brigadier General Edward McCook. Ten Confederates and 150 Federals were killed. Wheeler took over 100 prisoners.
• May 1865 - The war is over. Ben Prater frees his seventeen slaves and gives several acres of land to each family.
On some Civil War maps, Prater's Mill is listed as Barrett's or Russell's Mill. Barrett was a former owner of the property while Russell was probably a Prater relative hired as the miller.
Prater's Mill is located at 5845 Georgia Highway 2, Dalton, GA 30721 on GA Hwy. 2, 10 miles Northeast of Dalton and about 30 miles south of Chattanooga, TN. Exit I-75 at Hwy. 201 (Tunnel Hill - Varnell Exit-341). Travel North 4.5 miles to GA Hwy. 2, turn right on GA Hwy. 2 and continue 2.6 miles to Prater’s Mill. GPS:: N34 53.720 W84 55.197