The rest of the story...

Here's where I tell you all the stuff that wouldn't fit in a 2-minute TV story.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Big Spring Mill

Click here to view the story that aired on Fox 21/27.

I'm not sure what I expected to find at the Big Spring Mill in Elliston.

Bob Long
Bob Rotanz owner of Mac and Bob's restaurant in Salem and a fellow YMCA board member told me he used their flour in the restaurant and thought their story was a good one for my segment.

Not only is it the story of a mill that still does things the "old fashioned way"  -- that is one of the few family owned mills the the state -- and might be the only one, (I just didn't have time to check) but it represents a true family enterprise that's grown through generations of millers and their wives who tested the flour to ensure really fluffy biscuits and seasoning that creates amazing fried chicken.

Hand tied bags of flour
The finished product

This would be a better book than a TV news story... but I did the best I could in my allotted time.

The Long Family from the current owners Bob and his uncle, David to Bob's retired father Bill to the his parents and grand parents who set up shop in the same spot in 1937 -- it's a story of perseverance.

Standing there it's cool to see people coming and going to buy a bag of flour, or animal feed over the counter in the quaint business office at the mill.   It's amazing to watch workers deftly using twine to tie miller's knots on every sack of flour, and to hear stories of how the famous seasoned flour is mail-ordered from all over the world because nothing else tastes quite like it.

Yes.  This is the story of an old way of doing things through the generations, but it's also evidence that left alone, just off the beaten path in our generic world of big box stores and franchise restaurants Virginians continue to find success and happiness in a simple, rural lifestyle.


  1. We use to make buying Big Springs Mill part of every trip to the mountains, now we can get it at home. It makes the lightest biscuits ever. My mother made her last bathing at age 89 just months before her home going. My sisters and I carry on the tradition of making cheese biscuits for every occasion.

  2. I discovered the biscuit mix at Sams Wholesale, wow what a find! Best biscuits ever.