Imagine Northeast Iowa

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Camping, Fishing, Canoeing at Historical Motor Mill
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Camping, Fishing, Canoeing at Historical Motor Mill

What to experience some 1869 history while camping, canoeing, fishing, hiking, and bird watching? Come to the Historic Motor Mill in Elkader, Iowa! It opens on Saturday, May 26th and will be open every weekend the rest of the summer.

Traveling just off the gravel road in Clayton County Iowa near Elkader along the banks of the Turkey River sits a six-story limestone building built around 1869. We arrive in the morning, and the building is surrounded by the fresh morning dew, with nature all around. Birds are chirping and squirrels rustle in the tall grass. We even see a deer wandering for a drink from the Turkey River.

Soon, it will be time to do a little fishing in the early morning sun. We look forward to catching some tasty catfish. Planning ahead, we have arranged to go canoeing in the afternoon by renting canoes from Turkey River Rentals in Elkader, Iowa.

In between lunch and canoeing, I’m really looking forward to the Motor Mill Tour on Saturday to learn about the Historical Limestone Mill. When planning our camping trip, we researched the construction of the Mill. The Mill is 90 feet tall. The top is 2 feet thick, while the foundation is 5 feet thick. The huge 3-5 ton limestone blocks were quarried by cable car on wooden rails down the rocky bluff above. And there was four head stone mason hired, one for each side. This is why no two sides are alike.

Interestingly enough, the beams are pegged – meaning no nails were used in the construction. The Mill was built in a year and the site itself has four more buildings: an inn, cooperage, icehouse, and livery stable. I can't help but think of the exceptional workmanship in a time with no technology or power tools. It's truly an amazing job to accomplish by man’s hand with hard work and teamwork.

In 1977, Motor Mill in Elkader, Iowa, was placed on the Registry National Historic Site. It is a must-see on my bucket list, so we're anticipating a fun-filled day of learning more and observing the 122-year old Motor Mill!

Image credit: CCDG

  1. RovingPatrick
    Another fine reason to visit Elkader.

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