Improvements continuing at Hagood Mill Historic Site

By Jason Evans
Staff Reporter

PICKENS — Hagood Mill Historic Site is weathering the uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to the damage caused by weather.

Hagood Mill Foundation chairman Robert Sams gave county council an update on the mill during its May 4 meeting.

“I think you’ll be pleased with what they’re presenting us tonight,” Councilman Wes Hendricks said. “It looks good.”

Last July, a new agreement went into effect for the operations of the Hagood Mill. The county continues to own the mill site, but the foundation oversees its operations.

“Pickens County owns the mill,” Sams said. “We just lease it. We want to be good stewards with y’all’s commitment to history and heritage.”

Like other area tourism sites, the mill has suffered the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’ve been open, (but) we can’t have events where people would gather,” Sams said. “We’ve had three events canceled because of corona.”

That’s in addition to the damage the mill site suffered after the tornado and flooding earlier this year, he said.

The foundation appreciates the county’s assistance in cleanup efforts, Sams said.

The mill’s petroglyph site is closed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

“That’s where people could mingle,” Sams said.

Plans are ongoing to make the petroglyph site “the world’s best prehistoric artifact collection,” he said.

“We spent money on furnishings to display, but with the COVID we can’t have people come through,” Sams said.

More than 400 people visited Hagood Mill the previous Friday and Saturday, Sams told council.

“Not at the same time?” council chairman Roy Costner asked.

No, Sams replied.

“It’s 50 acres,” he said. “There’s plenty of room for people to walk and play disc golf. So they can get out, because everybody is frustrated.”

Sams said the foundation would love to work with the county’s tourism department as part of the county’s Kickstart Pickens County plan to reopen the county and give a boost to the local economy.

Costner asked about funding to install bathrooms at the mill site’s Heritage Pavilion.

A residential contractor could get the bathrooms done for about $50,000, Sams said.

“However, since we have to have a general contractor, the only bid we’ve been able to receive so far was $90,000-$100,000,” he said.

A company could supply the pavilion with a portable bathroom structure for around $53,000, Sams said.

“We would like to go ahead with that,” he said.

That company has done similar work at Mile Creek Park, he said.

“The county has been happy with that company,” Sams said.

The bathroom would use a bladder system, not a septic system, he said.

“With the permitting for a septic system, that would end up probably being $5,000-$10,000 and delay us another six months,” Sams said.

Costner asked if council needed to take action on the bathroom project.

“It’s not spending our money, but because it’s our property,” he said.

Acting county administrator Ken Roper agreed.

“Under the conditions of the lease, the Hagood Mill Foundation, before they make alterations to the site, have to come to you all for permission,” he said.

Sams said the foundation would like to have approval “so we can move forward” and order the bathroom.

The foundation isn’t asking for additional funds, just approval, he said.

Permanent bathrooms are still planned for the future, Sams said.

“However, this is a stop-gap measure that would allow us to rent the pavilion with something a little bit nicer than Porta Pottys,” he said.

Hendricks asked Roper if the county could assist the project with any necessary grading.

Roper said yes, dependent on the lead time required, as the roads and bridges department has other projects it’s working on.

Hendricks called for a resolution approving the portable bathroom facility at the mill. Council approved the resolution unanimously.

Sales of merchandise at the mill “are quite excellent,” Councilman Trey Whitehurst said.

“If you spent $13,000 to buy (the items) and you sold it for $29,000, I think you’re doing pretty good,” he said.

Sams agreed, saying shopkeeper Pam Smith has done “a great job” with sales.

A fundraiser is underway to fund enclosing the pavilion through the sale of bricks. Learn more at

Hendricks asked council to consider providing the foundation with additional financial assistance.

“I know money is tight right now,” he said. “It’s also tight for these guys, and we know what kind of icon Hagood Mill is for our county and what it does for tourism, tax dollars and the cultural heritage of it, preserving that.”