Jolly Mill Park is a privately supported recreational and historical park. The 1848 mill containing Isbell’s Distillery and Jolly Mill has been a landmark in Southwest Missouri for over 150 years and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
The three-floor structure still retains the original hand-hewn and pegged framing timbers and limestone slab foundations. A village named Jollification quickly developed around the distillery/mill to serve as a rest stop and resupply point for wagon trains and stagecoaches. Because of new taxes on whiskey that owner George Isbell refused to pay, the distillery was closed in the 1870s. Isbell turned his attention to the milling of flour.
In 1983, a group of interested citizens organized a Foundation to restore and preserve the Jolly Mill as a nucleus of a public recreation park for picnicking and fishing. Mill restoration was completed in 1998 when the repaired water-powered machinery began grist milling demonstrations.
On December 27, 2015, Jolly Mill Park suffered extensive damage from the worst flood in generations. The water rose several feet deep in the park during the height of the flood. The flood damaged several buildings, including the park’s covered bridge, which was pushed on its side; and left the floor of the historic Jolly Mill full of mud, water damage, and debris.
In spring 2016, as a fundraiser to restore the park, we held our 1st Annual Jolly Mill Challenge – Fun Run & 5K. The community support was tremendous and as a result, the race was a huge success with 277 racers and countless families and friends partaking in the big event! The community involvement was nothing short of incredible! Because of the funds generated by the race, race contributions, prize donations, and sponsors, our parking lot, bridges over the children’s stream, front porch of the mill, and many of the sidewalks that had been heavily damaged by the flood were able to be replaced or repaired.
Jolly Mill is open dawn to dusk, seven days a week. $5 per car upon entry to the park. The park can be reserved for weddings, birthday parties, and reunions.