One of the Watkins Mill Association’s top priorities is to promote the authentic educational opportunities the historic site provides. What better way to help your students, scouts, homeschoolers and other club members understand life and industry in the 1800s than to immerse them in the time period?

Site staff will take your reservation by phone and help you create a learning experience that is appropriate for the age range and size of your group.

Support from volunteers is critical in presenting educational and interpretive programs at the Watkins Woolen Mill State Historic Site. If you would like to get involved with Watkins Mill in this way, please contact Amanda at 816-580-3387.

For reservations: 816-580-3387 or Email

Visitors Center & Museum

When you come to Watkins Mill for educational programs, it’s a good idea to plan extra time at the beginning of your visit to explore the museum or see a 25-minute orientation film.

Length: One half-hour each for video and museum

Fee: Free


Scavenger Hunt (PDF)

Watkins House and Woolen Mill Tours

Click here to learn more about our tours.

Watkins Mill Association
704 P.O. BOX
Excelsior Springs, MO.  64024

April – October:
Available daily; the program can be scheduled for any one-hour time block from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

November and March:
Available daily; the program can be scheduled for any one-hour time block from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

December – February:
No programs will be scheduled.

Living History Farm Program

Through the Living History Farm Program, students participate in common activities of the 1870s. Costumed interpreters present the activities and explain why they were important to the Watkins family. Teachers can choose up to three of the following activities. You will indicate your preference when making your reservation.

  • Cider Pressing (August – October, schools are responsible for providing 2-3 apples per student)
  • Gardening (April – September, work gloves recommended)
  • Laundry
  • Rag Rug Weaving
  • Victorian Games
  • Wood Stove Cooking

Availability: Offered March through November, seven days a week. Depending on availability, you can schedule any two hour time block from 10 am – 3 pm, April through October, and from 10 am – 2 pm in March and November.

Industrial Revolution Outreach

In this program interpreters dressed in 1870s period clothes travel to your classroom to provide a presentation on the industrial revolution. A brief history of the industrial revolution is covered with the main focus being on the importance of woolen mills. Three pre-industrial revolution activities are demonstrated for students with the activities consisting of hand carding of wool, spinning of wool on a spinning wheel, and weaving of fabric on a table-top hand loom. Students are allowed and encouraged to participate in hand carding and weaving. Following each activity video footage is shown of machines from an operating historical woolen mill that perform the same tasks as the pre-industrial revolution methods. This allows students to visually compare and contrast efficiency, productivity, and safety differences before the industrial revolution began and once it was well under way.

One-Room Schoolhouse Program

Students can see what school was like in the 19th century. At Franklin Academy, a costumed interpreter will teach short lessons in several subjects of the day including history, reading, spelling, elocution, and arithmetic. The Franklin Academy is not heated or air-conditioned so please dress accordingly. You can supplement your curriculum with a teachers guide available from the site office. Reservations are required for this program.

The schoolhouse is available free of charge to teachers who wish to conduct their own programs during normal business hours. Tell us your plans in the comments section when you make your reservation. Site staff will be happy to open the building for you and will also lock up when you are finished. They can also provide up to 40 sets of William Holmes McGuffey’s Eclectic Readers and 20 sets of Ray’s Arithmetic books.

Availability: Offered March through November, seven days a week. Depending on availability, you can schedule any one-hour block from 10 am – 4 pm, April through October, and from 10 am – 2 pm in March and November

Volunteers bring the 1800s to life for living history demonstrations, tours, field trips and special events at the historic site.

An interpreter explains the slate to some tech-savvy visitors.

Quills were the principal writing instrument from the 6th to the 19th century, but went into decline after the invention of the metal pen, which was patented and then mass produced in Waltus Watkins’ lifetime.


Watkins Woolen Mill
Northeast of Kearney, MO 64060
Main Entrance at
NE 161st Street and County Road RA

[email protected]

Watkins Mill Association 6k GO6K. Register today.

Due to the current COVID-19 Pandemic we have postponed our Watkins Mill Get Outdoors 6K to Sep 19th. We are hoping that we are able to have our 6K as planned on thIS day. However, we are monitoring the current COVID-19 situation closely and will abide by any public gathering restrictions as implemented by the state of Missouri, and Clay County, MO.

Should we be forced to cancel the event, registrants will be able to take advantage of one of two options: participate in a virtual race, or donate your registration fee. Please don't hesitate to email us with any questions. Please register today at

In the meantime, stay positive, be safe and take care of each other. We hope to see you out on the trail on September 19th.

Thank you,
Watkins Mill Association

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GO 2021 6K

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