The date of the first mill and millpond on this site is not exactly known. Prior to 1850, a mill with an undershot wheel was built to grind grain. This was primarily a gristmill with store burrs, but a sash sawmill that cut 1500 board feet per day was reportedly operating in conjunction with it. After 1874, the Mill was operated under lease until it was sold to the DeHaven Brothers.
Bill and Jo DeHaven rebuilt the mill into a large two-story overshot mill and installed new machinery and equipment for a flourmill. The upper story contained wheat bins, screens, and six bolters or reels. On the lower floor there were three wheat falls, flour bin, and grain elevators. The machinery was driven by a fourteen foot in diameter-overshot wheel with a cog shaft transmission.
In 1901, the mill was sold to Jefferson Markham who continued its operation as a gristmill until 1907. People would come from miles around and camp on the riverbanks while the grain was processed.
Thereafter, the mill stood idle until after the 1930’s when it’s new owner Rudolph G. Fuchs, replaced the mill with the present wheelhouse to produce electricity for his residence. However the Rural Electrification Administration (REA) provided electricity to the area before the wheelhouse could perform it's function.
The Forest Service acquired the site in 1965 and the recreational facilities were constructed by corpsmen from the Poplar Bluff Civilian Conservation Center.
Although it is difficult to locate most of the points at which surface waters enter under the ground stream channels, Blue Hole and Brushy Creek are exceptions. Other conduits like these, to the north and the west maintain the flow of water at Markham Springs from 3.5 to 4.6 million gallons per day.
In the beginning was a bountiful settled by a hardy people who made good use of the free flowing stream, the rich valleys and the timber clad hills. Wood was their basic material for building their homes, their barns, and their mills. They developed the tools and the means to utilize it well.
MARKHAM springs lies near the top of the Ozark dome an ancient geological structure formed by volcanic activity that occurred over one billion years ago. Subsequent intrusions of shallow seas and intermittent periods of uplift began a cycle of sediment deposition and buckling, which produced topographic features of present day Missouri. Limestone sediments laid down as long as 500 million years ago buckled under the stress of uplift in the earth’s crust, forming cracks into which surface water flower and eventually carved out underground caves and stream channels.
As erosion forces cut deep into the earth many of the underground channels issued forth as surface springs like Markham Springs. Currently, there are over 150 large springs of this origin in the state of Missouri.
The gateway to the western frontier was also the end of a rugged trek for many families who carved farms out of these rolling hills. In the wake of war, agriculture was dominated by small family farms. Wheat, corn, and oats were the major grains grown here along with dairy products, poultry, and fruit. Life on the farm even the social side, reflected the farming culture.
For example, corn husking was a popular excuse for a party where the lucky fellow who found the red ear could kiss the girl of his choice. Apparently the corn was husked faster that way.