The Watkins Mill Association

The Watkins Mill Association was founded in 1958 to promote the Watkins Woolen Mill State Historic Site and to provide financial assistance for preservation projects carried out by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources Division of State Parks.

Located northeast of Kearney, the Watkins Woolen Mill State Historic Site is operated by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources’ Division of State Parks. The site provides important information about work and life in the 1800s, including farming, homesteading, business, craftsmanship, technology, wool yarn and cloth production, women’s roles, and the history of the industrial revolution in rural America. The woolen mill contains the finest collection of mid-19th century textile machinery in situ in North America and includes some of the most significant textile artifacts known to survive. Read our History

Our Accomplishments

Since its inception, the association has donated an estimated $700,000 to the state historic site. Its major contributions include:

  • Recruiting volunteers and funding the annual volunteer appreciation dinner
  • Promoting formal and informal educational opportunities and resources at the historic site
  • Advocating for the Visitors Center and Museum to be built
  • Advocating for the mill’s leaky roof to be replaced
  • Arranging for much of the Watkins original home furnishings to be returned to the home
  • Providing replacement carpeting in the formal parlor
  • Funding the replacement of leather machinery belting in the mill
  • Supporting the launch of a cooperative project with the University of Missouri Master Gardener Extension Program
  • Providing a replacement wood stove in the summer kitchen
  • Funding tuck pointing on the Watkins home
  • Hosting the 1999 annual meeting of the Association for Living History, Farm and Agricultural Museums
  • Providing seed money for the Visitors Center’s orientation video
  • Funding an internship position in the archives and contributing toward the purchase of museum storage cabinets that protect the artifacts housed there.
  • Providing funding for ongoing needs such as historic interpreter costumes, processed wool, fabric and yarn for exhibits (and sheep!), as well as ongoing maintenance of the property.

Our Gratitude

We would like to thank the following people and organizations for their roles in creating and preserving
Watkins Mill.

  • William J. Brace Charitable Trust - Bank of America, Trustee
  • Clay County Historical Society
  • Henry Frass Family
  • Forest Ingram
  • William T. Kemper Foundation - Commerce Bank, Trustee
  • Betty and Byron McDaniel
  • Chad Means
  • Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Division of State Parks
  • Lee Oberholtz
  • George Reuland
  • George Stilley
  • Sunderland Foundation
  • Waltus Watkins Family
  • Herbert A. and Adrian W. Woods Foundation
  • University of Missouri Extension Master Gardeners of Greater Kansas City


Our 6th Annual Get Outdoors Day is June 8, 2019. We will have a 8am start.  

Recent News

Find out what's happening at Watkins Mill:

No news found.

Follow us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter