Shannon County, Mo.
Winter can be a great time to visit the Ozarks. The dense foliage that crops up in the warmer months often obscures the dramatic geography that makes the landscape so interesting. That’s the case with Rocky Creek, a tributary of Current River that runs through southern Shannon County.
Where the creek meets the stubborn volcanic rock that forms the St. Francois Mountains, shut-ins are created. Waterfalls cascade down the slick purple-black rock, forced to flow only where the rock will allow passage.
Visitors to Rocky Creek in the sumer might miss the tiny Klepzig Mill shown on our cover. German immigrant Walter Klepzig built the one-room, pine-sided grist mill in 1928. A progressive farmer, Klepzig was the first in the area to use barbed wire and woven wire for fencing. He also raised a refined breed of milk cow.
The mill clings to the rocky bluff next to a winding gravel road that is often unpassable in wet weather. A better route to take might be the Current River section of the Ozark Trail, which passes nearby. The mill is a fine example of a sawmill house, a building type that replaced log cabins in the Ozarks once sawmills arrived. In this construction, vertical planks were nailed to a hewn log sill and a sawn plate at the top, and the walls were raised into place.
There’s not much to see inside the mill, but the surrounding Mill Mountain Shut-in is breathtaking. While in the area, don’t miss Rocky Falls, Missouri’s most magnificent waterfall.
To reach Klepzig Mill, take Highway H east from Winona to Highway NN. Pass the sign for Rocky Falls and turn left on County Road 522. The mill site is not marked but is about one mile from the turn. This dirt road is steep and can be muddy and narrow. It’s not recommended for large RVs or trailers.