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Ghost Town of Motor Mill
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This cache is located in a county-owned area known as Motor Mill. (See the details given below for driving directions, trail location, and other details.) The cache is a hidden ammo can container containing a logbook, pencil, and several starting trade items. The difficulty rating may vary depending on the season. Please return the cache to its original location and state of concealment.
Motor Mill is located on the Turkey River six miles down stream from Elkader and is owned and managed by the Clayton County Conservation Board. The site covers 155 acres and the remaining limestone buildings of the town of Motor Mill. The mill and four other buildings are all that remain of the community of Motor that existed only from the 1840s to the 1870s. One of these limestone structures is the six-story Motor Mill built on the banks of the Turkey River out of local limestone blocks in 1867. The huge limestone blocks were quarried and transported by cable car from the bluffs above the mill. The property includes the original grist mill, the cooperage, an ice house, and an inn and barn for farmers waiting for their grain to be processed.
The historic town site is open year round and offers a scenic picnic area, primitive campgrounds and canoe access for the Turkey River. The road is 6 miles of scenic, well-maintained gravel with several steep hills, but when this relic from the past comes into view, you'll realize that the drive was worth the effort. If you think Iowa is flat, this road and the rugged trails that lead into the surrounding hills will change your mind.
Original directions: From Highway 13 near Elkader, turn east on Grape Road (opposite of Bridge Street). Follow this road 4 miles until you have crossed 3 concrete bridges. Just over the top of a hill, turn right onto Galaxy Road. Continue onto this road 2 miles, and it will lead you to the mill site. (Note: The roads consist of 6 miles of fairly well maintained gravel.)
Alternate directions (new effective December 8, 2012): A new bridge has been installed making access from the west side of the Turkey River now possible since the original bridge was first damaged by flooding back in 1991. From Highway 13 southwest of Elkader, take County Highway X3C and then 281st St. This route will result in better roads and less gravel than the original route described above.
The trail leading to this cache begins at N42°48.403’ W91°21.049’. The start of the trail is well defined with limestone steps (not a deer trail) on the east side of the cooperage building near the bridge. Please stay on the trail.
Returning for the summer of 2015!!: Historic guided tours of the mill, buildings and surrounding landscape. (In 2007, the May-to-October Motor Mill Tour season brought a total of 1,291 people from 26 states and 2 countries for tours.)
Days: May 2, 3 , 23, 24, 25 ; June 6, 7 , 20, 21 ; July 11, 12 , 25, 26 ; August 8, 9 , 22, 23 ; September 12, 13 , 26, 27
Hours (Personnel on site for tours): 12:00 – 5:00.
The Clayton County Conservation Board approves of the placement of this cache. Click here to see their endorsement.
You may also want to check out the “Elkader’s Lovers Leap” and “Pony Hollow Trail” caches (which were placed at the same time) while you are in the Elkader, Iowa area.
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- Mill and adjacent bluffs in 1900See how the landscape has changed in 100 years.
The area is now being converted back to a hillside savanna.
- view of mill from river
Last Updated: on 11/15/2017 3:58:13 PM (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada) (11:58 PM GMT)
Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum