Big Spring Mill to close in August

Published: Jul. 12, 2022 at 8:41 PM EDT
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ELLISTON, Va. (WDBJ) - As the news spread Tuesday morning, the parking lot at Big Spring Mill in Elliston filled with loyal customers, coming to pay their respects and to stock up on the flour they say they can’t replace.

One of Virginia’s few small, independent mills, Big Spring Mill is scheduled to close next month. “I’ll have to quit cooking and baking now, because there’s no flour,” joked Bonnie Heinline.

“This is the best flour that you can buy, so I hate to see ‘em go out of business,” said David Miller, “but they’ve done a good job down through the years.”

The testimonials flowed, along with descriptions of the favorite recipes that benefit from Big Spring Mill flour. “I use it for a little bit of everything,” Fred Brown told us, “to make biscuits, seasoned flour, put it on your pork chops, chicken, just about everything, make gravies, all that kind of stuff, good stuff.”

Big Spring Mill is just off US 460 in Elliston. Its origins date to 1850 and the establishment of a grist mill along the banks of the south fork of the Roanoke River. Today, it manufactures livestock feed and several varieties of baking flour, but not much longer.

Owner Bob Long wasn’t ready to discuss the reasons in a brief conversation Tuesday morning, but we hope to hear more in an interview next week.

“It’s heartbreaking,” said Michelle Powell. “This place has been going for many, many years.”

“It’s sad,” said Janie Shepherd. “Just another time-honored tradition, hometown business, that’s closing up.”

“Judging by the traffic in here, it is a good product and people want to be here for it, and support the Longs and what has been for years and years a great industry here,” added John McCrady.

In a written statement, Bob Long said the operation has withstood flood and fire and even several runaway train cars, but after 172 years, Big Spring Mill will close in August. He said the mill “would like to thank its employees for years of dedication and generations of customers for their loyalty.”

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