Time Table for the Motor Mill Site­

1833 – First European-American settlement in Clayton County near Millville.

1838 – First European-American settler in present day Read Township.

1847 – John Thompson purchased Section 27 and 34 of Read Township from Jacob Howard.

1850-60 – There was a sawmill called “Hastings Bottoms” and/or “Downie’s Mill” located at or

near the present Motor Mill site.

1856 – Statistics taken by James O. Crosby show there were 14,862 acres of wheat and 12,112 acres corn planted in Clayton County.

1857 – Clayton County maps show a sawmill at this site, no grist mill or bridge.

1866 – Clayton County maps show the sawmill at site but no other buildings or bridge.


Chinch bug invasion.

Summer & Fall – Crosby getting water rights for site, surveying, leveling begun on Motor’s flour mill, construction of cable car railway begun.

October 1 – Thompson, Crosby and J.P. Dickinson officially entered into a co-partnership under the firm name of John Thompson & Co.


Construction for the high-sided wood bridge crowing the Turkey River began.

March 16 – Crosby went to Elkport to meet with School Board. Got appropriation for school at Motor.

April 28 – First load of rock was hauled down the railway from hilltop quarry.

April 29 – 7 or 8 loads of rock were hauled down the railway.

May 13 – Crosby was turned down in his application for a post office at Motor, Iowa.

June 14 – The Motor Sabbath School was organized by electing J. Worley Superintendent and J.P. Dickinson Sec/Treas.

1869 –

May 30 – Letter from Thompson to Crosby to begin laying up the stone wall for the Cooper Shop.

August 3 – Crosby and Thompson tried to promote a Woolen Mill at the Motor Site.

Crosby traveled the country promoting this venture.

October 23 – Crosby cut brush and located a road to Colony (Communia). Mr. Crosby apparently,

established the road from Communia to Motor.

November 20 – Crosby left Motor with 138 lbs. flour, 32.5 lbs. mids, 75 lbs. bran and 34 lbs.


December 19 – Roof on Mill was completed.

1870 – U.S. Census lists Mary J. Davis (schoolteacher), A. Falconer (hotel keeper), John Thompson (flour miller) and Louis Schroeder (store keeper) at Motor.


Chinch Bug invasion.

A schoolhouse was built on the south side of the river near the rock quarry between Motor and Communia.

1875 – August 27 – James O. Crosby filed plat map for the Motor town site.

1876 – The Iowa Eastern Railway, apparently in about a three month period, transported some 720 barrels of flour.

1878 –

February 12 – Dickinson sold his ¼ interest to Thompson.

February 12 – Thompson hired Dickinson to work at the Mill at $600 per year.

February 12 – “Some trouble has occurred here..” Dickinson and his family left Motor that night.

1879 – Motor Mill was rented out. J. Thompson left Motor.

1883 – August 17 – Hole in the middle of dam about 8’x3’ and on right bank a strip 5’ wide, 10’ to 12’ long.

1887 – Chinch bug invasion.

1889 – John Thompson petitioned that the partnership be dissolved and the property sold.

July 5 – From Equity Suit “John Thompson VS James O. Crosby” – Paragraph 15 – The dam across the Turkey River which furnished the motor power for the flour mill was pretty washed out and damaged by high water, so that since said Co. has been unable to repair dam and operate, or rent same for any purpose. Sawmill carried off by flood.

1891 – The final legal settlement between Crosby and Thompson ended in court and Motor ceased to function as a viable town.

1898-99 – The two span iron bridge was built by A.C. Boyle, of nearby McGregor, Iowa. Boyle was issued warrants totaling $3,024.45 for the Motor Mill Bridge.

1903 – Land was purchased by Louis L. Klink and Elizabeth (Wistrick) Klink for their family farm.

1977 – The Motor Mill Town Site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

1983 – 100 acres at Motor Mill purchased by the Clayton County Conservation Board (CCCB), with assistance of the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation (INHF), from the Klink Family.

1991 – Flood washed out the south span of the iron bridge.

1992 – Motor Mill Historic Park expanded with purchase of additional 55 acres on North side of river.

2002 – The Clayton County Conservation Board established the Motor Mill Advisory Committee.

2004 –

September 2 – The Motor Mill Foundation was formed. The Clayton County Conservation Board dissolved the Motor Mill Advisory Committee.


Motor open for tours two weekends per month, May-Sept. Over 1,100 people visited the mill.

The Robert Grau family established the Robert Grau Memorial Savanna on top of the hill north of the mill.

2007 –

Motor Mill Foundation develops Long Range Plan for the Motor Mill site.

Members of the Motor Mill Foundation replace the floor joists and flooring in the mill.

2008 –

June 8 – Flood washed out the north span of the iron bridge.

2009 – Roofs are replaced on the mill and inn.

2010 – The windows are replaced in the mill.

2011 – The mill stone floor superstructure is replaced in the mill.


October 11 – Construction on the bridge began.

December 6 – Restoration of the bridge is completed.

2013 – Cooperage windows are replaced.

2014 – Stair rails are created and installed in the mill.