Daryl had to get up early this morning to meet the other guys also going to the football game, so he said good-bye and off he went.
I was still in bed when he left and was trying to think just what I should do today. I wanted to go kayaking, but everyone was busy doing other stuff. So that wasn’t going to work. I could work on getting the house cleaned, but that was a lame idea! I just didn’t know what the day was going to bring. So after I got the cows fed and the other chores done I still wasn’t any closer to my answer. I did some housework and decided that I might just want to go to this one Mill that someone at work was talking about. It wasn’t that far away, only about 1 1/2 hours and it was pretty nice outside. Yup, that’s what I was going to do. I pulled it up quick on the internet and found that this is the only day that they were going to be open this year. It was like it was fate or something! Then I saw that not too far from the Mill was an annual festival that was celebrating it’s 40th year. SCORE!! I’m in business. I quick changed clothes and I was off. Now I wasn’t sure where either of these places were, but I wrote down some basic directions before I left and honestly how hard could it be right?
MOTOR MILL – Clayton County, Iowa
This was going to be my first stop of the day. I wasn’t sure where I was actually going, but I knew the general idea. Well I found out, that maybe I didn’t have a clue where it actually was! I knew that I was on the right highway from my notes, but I kept watching for one of those brown signs that say “turn here”. Finally after driving up and down this one highway and hoping that no one was watching, I finally found the sign that I was looking for. It said that it was 7 miles from the turn. OK, this shouldn’t be too hard right? It was all gravel travel, but growing up on a gravel road and now living on a gravel road,this should be a piece of cake. OMG!! Yea… not so much!! I was driving, driving, driving, and finally found another brown sign that pointed to the right. Well at least I was on the right road and took a deep breath and turned right. Now I don’t know about you, but I have honestly have never been on any road like this in my life!! I took this picture, but it doesn’t do it any justice.
It was steeper than this picture can ever show!
And when I got on top of the next hill, I literally stopped the car because I couldn’t see the road in front of me. It was like you were on the top of the roller coaster and just got to the top. Yup, just like that! Crazy stuff! And then I literally laughed out loud when I came across this sign around the next corner.
Really? Now it’s going to get worse? I just couldn’t imagine that! The good thing about it was that the scenery was absolutely beautiful and a road like I’ve never driven on before. When I finally got to the Mill I was telling the tour guide about my adventure and she just smiled and said that when she drives on it she can’t believe the road either! There is a better way to get back to the highway, and she’d give me directions when I left.
Now for the Mill.
Motor Mill, Elkader Iowa
It was absolutely so cool! It’s located on the Little Turkey River and the time of the year couldn’t have been better. There was a total of 5 buildings on the property, the Mill, the Cooperage (where they made the flour barrels), the Stable (for the people who stayed at the Inn), the Inn (farmers stayed here while their grain was ground), and the Ice House (ice cut from the river and kept inside for the Inn). But the one that I really wanted to check out was the Mill. I’ve never even heard about this mill until a couple of weeks ago. When this 6 story Mill was built back in the late 1860′s, it cost $50,000 to build the mill. $50,000 in our time would be almost $3,000,000. And then they spent another $40,000 on equipment and out buildings. I guess you can say that the 3 partners who built this mill had a lot of money back in those days! There are so many facts about this mill that it’s going to be too hard to put them all in this post. But some of the cool things that I learned today is that when the mill was running, no one was allowed to be in the building who didn’t work there. That way, no one could see how they milled the product and take away any trade secrets. The other thing that I learned it that all the wood and limestone has small holes in them. The reason is because in order to get the 5 foot slabs of limestone in place or the huge boulders of wood, they hooked it with a large hook and rope and then used a pulley system to put it in place. The mill was powered by a dam that was built that supplied at least 250 hp even at low water. They used the water to power turbines that moved the big mill stones. The building is built with a limestone base sitting on bed rock. And after all these years and multiple floods, it hasn’t moved a bit.
So here are some pictures that I took today and if you ever get a chance to check out this Motor Mill, I would definitely suggest doing it!
I like this picture, so I added it to show the water and the tree colors
I had absolutely no idea that there was this many mills in the area!
Limestone bluffs used to make the Mill. This is across the river from the Mill
Limestone is all around you when you’re driving to the Mill
People have carved their names into the limestone inside the buildings for over 90 years! All the walls are full of people who have come and gone through out the years.
And the photo of the day is a pretty simple one. It’s the bridge that is by the Mill that goes over the Little Turkey River. It sounds like a lot of people kayak this river and I’m telling you that I sure hope that I’m on that list next year!
Looking down the bridge