Pioneer families in the 1830s found the Franklin Creek area to be an inviting new home on the sometimes unfriendly prairie. Large, cool springs provided ample amounts of pure drinking water and early refrigeration, hardwood forests provided construction materials, and the creek provided fish for food and water power to run saw and grist mills. The mill spring, the largest in the park, provided water power for the largest grist mill in Lee County, constructed in 1847. Deep, pleasant valleys protected by limestone and sandstone bluffs made ideal homesites shielded from cold winter winds. Many ponds and rock outcroppings along Franklin Creek carry names given them by pioneer families.