Source: NorthFulton.com

Smithsonian Museum Day comes to Autrey Mill
Free tours of Historic Village, guided hikes

by Hatcher Hurd

September 17, 2013

JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – If you have never seen Autrey Mill Nature Preserve and Heritage Center’s Historic Village or seen its natural wonders on the Nature Trail, you will never have a better opportunity than Saturday, Sept. 28.

Autrey Mill will open its doors free of charge that day as a participant in the Smithsonian magazine’s ninth annual Museum Day Live.

Ben Pitman, operations manager at Autrey Mill, said they are planning a special day. Normally, they offer treks and tours – one is the nature hike for $5, and the other is the historic buildings tour for $5 (both tours for $7).

“What is going to be really special is that in addition to the guided treks, we will have docents at the historical buildings so they will get to go inside,” Pitman said.

The buildings include the Summerour House, Warsaw Church, Green’s Store and the Tenant Farm House.

Usually, the buildings must remain closed for staffing reasons.

“Hikes will take you down to the old mill and to the old gold mill,” he said.

What looked to be an old well on the property turned out to be a gold operation similar to those run in Dahlonega.

“People always wondered why there was a well so close to the creek. Then some UGA students came and surveyed it. They told us it was a gold operation,” Pitman said.

It turns out it has 12 steps down in to the mill and then tunnels 25 feet into a hill.

In addition to the docents, there will be historical displays of arrowheads collected from the area, a bone display of local fauna and a Native American display.

“We want the people to come and see these treasures,” he said.

The nationwide event offers free admission to visitors presenting a Museum Day Live ticket at a participating museum or cultural institutions.

Inclusive by design, the event represents the Smithsonian’s commitment to make learning and the spread of knowledge accessible to everyone, giving museums across all 50 states the opportunity to emulate the admission policy of the Smithsonian museums in Washington, D.C.

Last year’s event drew over 400,000 participants nationwide, and this year’s event expects record-high participation.

Guided nature hikes will also be offered. Here, visitors will explore an old gold mine and the old Autrey Mill. The visitor center will also be open, where visitors can view a collection of Southeastern Native American stone artifacts.

Autrey Mill Nature Preserve and Heritage Center is on 46 acres of woodlands and wetlands in the Johns Creek area.

Open year-round, Autrey Mill offers opportunities for visitors to explore nature and historical buildings from Johns Creek. Autrey Mill offers a variety of programs, including special events like Wild Weekend, daily classes of nature- and history-based curriculum for all ages, public programs, summer camps, field trips and a natural history museum.