Yarber Grist Mill opened for business in February 1933, in a tin building on Main Street in downtown Red Bay, Preston Yarber, owner and operator, had moved to Red Bay from Belmont early in January that same year. The mill was located across the street from where the park is now. Ground corn meal and crushed livestock feed were the primary functions of the Grist Mill's day operation.
The livestock feed was made up of corn, hay, soybeans, and other ingredients raised by the farmers. They would bring these materials to the mill by wagon, tractor, truck and sometimes in the trunk of their cars to get it crushed, mixed and processed by the crusher. The original crusher was a John Deere gasoline-driven engine that was slow to operate, resulting in long lines and delays in getting the feed mixed and crushed. In 1946, the mill purchased a larger, faster O.B. Wise crusher driven by a 25-hourse powered electric motor that sharply increased production, raising the feed output from 10-12 minutes to 3 minutes per hundred pounds.
The second and main part of the mill was to grind corn into corn meal. This was accomplished on what was then called a set of rocks housed in wooden or metal boxes. The two large circular rocks, measuring about 40 inches in circumference, were placed facing each other. One rock was stationary while the other was turned by a pulley powered by another 25-horse powered electric motor. Shelled corn was poured into a hopper atop the rocks and gradually allowed to flow through a sifter into the crack between the two rocks and was ground into corn meal. The texture of the corn meal could be adjusted by turning a spindle to draw the rocks closer together. This is where the talents of the miller were put to the test. Because there was on other way to gauge the texture, the miller had to place his hand into the out-spout to feel the meal as it was coming out and then keep the rocks set at the precise intervals in order to maintain the proper consistency. This was an art that required years of experience and know-how. Yarber made corn meal for farmers from their own corn brought to the mill for processing. He also made corn meal which could be purchased off the shelf in the Grist Mill or from most of the grocery stores in and around Red Bay.
The mill closed in 1952.
Ben Collum, Hosey Orricks, Dewey Sartain, John Paul Davis and Mr. Nix who was later run over by a train, worked in the Mill over the years. Sons Billy and Benny Yarber also worked there.