This 174-acre landscape is located in central Wake County, five miles south of downtown Raleigh. The site’s predominant feature is a restored eighteenth-century water-powered gristmill. One of 70 such mills that once served the region, it is the only one currently in operating condition. The property passed through the ownership of several prominent businessmen during nearly 200 years of operation, between its circa-1756 construction and its closure in 1953. In 1963 the mill and several hundred surrounding acres were purchased by North Carolina State University (NCSU), which maintains ownership to this day. In 1989 the non-profit Yates Mill Associates (YMA) was founded to restore the mill and preserve the landscape’s agricultural heritage. In 2006 Historic Yates Mill County Park was opened to the public, managed through a partnership between NCSU, the YMA, and Wake County Parks, Recreation & Open Space.
Accessed via Lake Wheeler Road, the park includes a visitor center, an environmental research center, and a wildlife refuge, which occupies most of the site. The historic mill is situated on the east bank of a twenty-acre pond surrounded by a forested nature preserve to its north and west. A boardwalk traversing the pond’s northern end provides a viewpoint from which to observe the site’s natural and scenic assets and gives direct pedestrian access to the preserve’s three miles of hiking trails. Picnic areas and the visitor center are located to the east of the pond, and a small wooden amphitheater is sited within an open lawn near the park entrance. Yates Mill was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1970.