After more than 21 years, a bridge again crosses the Turkey River at Motor Mill. Crews from Minnowa Construction used large cranes to lift the two spans of the steel bridge into place on Tuesday, November 20. The structure is designed to closely resemble the historic, 1895 bridge that was destroyed by the floods of 1991 and 2008.
The new spans sit atop a center pier and abutments, which were refurbished and raised about four feet to avoid future flooding. Minnowa employees will add a wooden plank deck, guardrails, and other finishing touches in the next few days.
The Motor Mill Foundation and the Clayton County Conservation Board, which manages the Motor Mill Historic Site, will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony to officially open the bridge on Saturday, Dec. 8, at 11 a.m. The first person to cross the bridge will be the winner of a raffle, which closes at noon on Dec. 7.
The Motor Mill Foundation is continuing a fund drive to pay for the $1 million bridge project. The Foundation needs to raise about $90,000 to supplement a $432,000 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), $463,000 from Iowa’s Resources Enhancement and Protection program (REAP), $20,000 from Upper Mississippi Gaming, $33,000 from Iowa Great Places, and $11,000 from Clayton County Secondary Roads.
The new bridge will be open to vehicles, with some weight and/or length restrictions. It should improve access to Motor Mill, which since 1991 has been reachable only via six miles of gravel on Grape and Galaxy Roads. The new Turkey River crossing shortens the gravel to just two miles, via Hazel and Galaxy Roads from Grandview Road at Communia.
The County Conservation Board and the Motor Mill Foundation are continuing restoration and development of the Motor Mill site. Future plans call for installing new windows in the Cooperage, replacing roofs on the Cooperage and Ice House, renovations to improve visitor access to the inside of the Mill, repairs of flood damage to the Inn and Stable, removal of silt from the basement of the Mill, and building a levee to prevent future flooding. Discussions are under way with landowners to allow development of a trail along the Turkey River between Motor and Elkader.
For details of a raffle to choose the first person to cross the bridge, call the Conservation Board at 563-245-1516.