|The Federal Distillery Building circa 1990, front view|
Built by “Babe” Cooper in 1854, the federal
distillery building still stands today on Highway 276 and is part of the
offices of Camp Rockbrook. The distillery was regulated by the federal
government and originally had an attached mill that served the community by
grinding grain for both food and liquor production through the decades.
A flume diverted water from Dunn’s Creek to
power the mill wheel as it ground grain. The front porch was built at wagon
height for easy loading and unloading of the final product. Retail sales for
the distilled whiskey operated directly at the site in addition to bulk sales
that were transported to distributors in the region. Throughout the years,
several families rented the space and operated it as a general store as well.
|The Federal Distillery Building circa 1990, rear and side view|
Several different operators kept the
distillery running until production shut down during prohibition in the early
1920s. It was at this time that Henry and Nancy Carrier inherited the building
and used it for antique reproduction furniture manufacture. The mill wheel was
relocated and used to provide electricity for Camp Rockbrook.
One of the main craftsmen there, Walter
Cantrell, eventually rented the building and used it for his own woodworking
and furniture making business for over forty years before relocating further up
the highway and shifting focus to antiques. This remnant of the past has shown
that adaptability is the secret to longevity.
and information for this column are provided by the Rowell Bosse North Carolina
Room, Transylvania County Library. This article was written by Local History
Librarian Laura Gardner. For more information, comments, or suggestions,
contact NC Room staff at [email protected] or 828-884-1820.