Motor Mill Happenings – Larry Stone

The Turkey River at Motor Mill may look quiet – but behind-the-scenes work is proceeding to complete a new bridge at the site this year.

The Clayton County Conservation Board has awarded a $906,000 contract for the project to Minnowa Construction of Harmony, Minn., which submitted the low bid for the work. Because of the unique bridge design – it will look almost like the structure that was built in 1895, yet be strong enough to handle 21st-century loads – the components are being fabricated by a custom steel supplier. The steel is expected to be ready in early September.

Work should proceed rapidly after Labor Day. Crews will build a coffer dam to allow access to the center pier, which will be repaired and capped with limestone-colored concrete to raise the bridge about four feet. The north and south abutments also will be repaired and raised.

The bridge itself will be assembled on the land, then each span will be raised into place with a crane. Minnowa expects to complete the work no later than early December.

With engineering and construction inspection, the total cost of the bridge project is estimated at $1.069 million, said Tim Engelhardt, director of the Clayton County Conservation Board. The money will come from several grants, including $432,427 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA); $463,000 from Iowa Resources Enhancement and Protection (REAP); $20,000 from the Upper Mississippi Gaming Corporation (UMGC); and $33,000 from Iowa Great Places. The Clayton County engineer’s office is donating time to inspect the construction.

The Motor Mill Foundation is in the midst of a fund drive to raise more than $100,000 to complete the bridge, along with additional work to repair roofs on the Ice House and Cooperage, and to remove silt from the basement of the Mill. For details, call 563-245-1516

Motor Mill Bridge Project Timetable

  • Steel has been ordered with delivery the week after Labor Day.  Mobilization will begin September 10th.
  • Clearing and grubbing, temporary bridge, cofferdam installed.
  • Tuckpointing and Pier repair, pier cap, abut caps and abutment wings installed completed by October 22
  • Bridge Assembly completed by November 12
  • Set trusses completed by November 14
  • Decking and railing installed completed by November 28th
  • Final approach work, site restoration and final walk through December 5th.

Motor Mill Bridge Budget

At the May 8, 2012 Clayton County Conservation Board meeting the board approved the low bid for the bridge project to Minnowa Construction from Harmony MN for $906,322.

The steel for the bridge has been ordered and work will be started in early fall of 2012.

The Motor Mill Foundation continues to raise funds for the remaining $90,000. Your support is appreciated.

Motor Mill Bridge Budget
 Abutment, Pier and Bridge Construction  $  906,322
 Engineering  $  142,000
 Construction inspection  $    21,000
 Estimated Total   Expenses                    $1,069,322
 Funding Sources                                  Secured
FEMA  $ 432,427
 REAP  $  463,000
 UMGC  $  20,000
 Great Places  $   33,000
 Construction inspection by County Engineer office  $  11,000
 Capital Fund Campaign  $  22,845
 TOTAL                $978,089
  Remaining Needed Dollars as of 8/30/2012      $  87,050

 View the plans!

Motor Mill Bridge ProjectDonations can be sent to:

Motor Mill Foundation
29862 Osborne Rd
Elkader IA 52043


Clayton County Conservation
29862 Osborne Rd
Elkader IA 52043

Donations to the Motor Mill Foundation, a 501c3 organization, or the Clayton County Conservation Board are 100% tax deductible.

Coming Soon: Civil War Encampment

Motor Mill Civil War Encampment

On May 19 & 20 there will be a Civil War Encampment at Motor Mill Historical Site to kick off the 2012 tour season. Come on out and take a look at the Civil War Encampment and also enjoy a tour of the historic 1860’s mill, related buildings, and town site. Mill tours will be offered from Noon until 5pm.

News Flash: Final Bridge plans under review

Motor Mill Bridge
Final Plans for the Motor Mill Bridge are being reviewed!

April 5th: Bids sent out
April 19th: Pre-bidders meeting
May 5th: Bid opening
May 8th: Recommendation to the
County Conwervation
Board for hiring

Check out Tim Engelhardt, Clayton County Conservation Director’s, update on Conservation Magazine Audio Report

Motor Mill Foundation members are currently raising matching funds to replace the Motor Mill Bridge. The new bridge will look the same as the 1895 iron bridge, raised by 4 feet, and will be open to vehicle traffic.

Projected completion is the fall of 2012.

 View the plans!

Grants have been secured from:
FEMA $432,427, REAP $463,000,
UMGC $20,000 and
Iowa Great Places $33,000.
Total amount of grant
funds secured: $948,427.

An additional $500,000 in matching funds is still needed; your donation would help take us over the river!!
More information about the Capital Fund Campaign is available here.

Donations to the Motor Mill Foundation, a 501c3 organization or the Clayton County Conservation Board are 100% tax deductible.

Motor Mill Bridge & Building Restoration Project

Motor Mill Bridge ProjectDuring the flood event of 2008, the north span of the Motor Mill Bridge was destroyed. As a result, FEMA allowed funding to replace the north span of the bridge to the pre-disaster state of the bridge.

The work includes tuck pointing the north, center and south stone abutments and the north bridge span. Funding was included to raise the bridge by four feet, placing it above the high water mark.

The Conservation Board and the Motor Mill Foundation have started the process to raise additional funding to complete the south span and make the bridge open to cars, pickups and pedestrian traffic.

The preliminary design has been completed and is in the process of review. The current design is a pin connected Pratt through truss bridge using modern materials.

Estimated completion is summer 2012.

Fund Raising Campaign

The Motor Mill Foundation and the Clayton County Conservation Board have been working
together since 2002 and have opened the mill for educational tours during the summer. The
partnership has raised funds to complete the projects listed in this brochure.

In 2010, the partnership expanded to include the Turkey River Recreational Corridor, FEMA, Northeast Iowa RC&D, Iowa Great Places and the Iowa DOT to achieve the outlined projects.

Over $1 million of the estimated $1.5 million estimated budget has been secured or is pending for secured. $577,000 is needed in matching funds to complete these projects. Your help is vital. Please consider a gift.

Motor Mill Bridge ProjectDonations can be sent to:

Motor Mill Foundation
29862 Osborne Rd
Elkader IA 52043


Clayton County Conservation
29862 Osborne Rd
Elkader IA 52043

Donations to the Motor Mill Foundation, a 501c3 organization, or the Clayton County Conservation Board are 100% tax deductible.

Printable Information Brochure

Motor Mill: Stories in Stone

The limestone walls of Motor Mill have towered 90 feet above the river since 1869. The Mill, with four associated buildings, has witnessed the growth of the state of Iowa, challenges of Mother Nature and human nature, and the series of changes that shaped the agricultural economy. Native Americans also used the site for centuries before that.<br><br>Now, more than 140 years later, the nonprofit Motor Mill Foundation has launched a $500,000 drive to raise matching funds for $1.5 million in state, federal and private grants that they’ve received to help restore the buildings, rebuild the bridge, and to construct a multi-use trail along the Turkey River between Elkader and Motor Mill. Work is expected to begin on these projects in 2012.
history, natural beauty and serenity of the Motor Mill site and its surroundings, and to develop appropriate uses and interpretations as a regional treasure for the benefit of future generations.”

Since then, the Foundation has assisted the Conservation Board with several projects. Some include:
More than 9,100 volunteer hours of work;
Repairing roofs and chimneys on the Mill and the Inn;
Replacing floor joists and flooring in the Mill;
Replacing windows in the Mill and adding shutters on the first floor;
Repairing support beams for the millstone floor;
Managing the Robert Grau Memorial Savanna and prairie restorations; Revamping the campground and canoe ramp;
Improving the well and water system;
Leading tours at Motor from May through September;
Approving long-range development and educational plans for the site;
Developing a website;
Creating a Facebook page;

Work to date has cost more than $208,000, which came from private donors and state and federal grants.

Future plans call for repairing roofs on the Stable, Icehouse, and Cooperage, excavation of silt in the Mill basement, and flood protection for the Inn, Stable and Icehouse.

The Motor Mill Foundation has begun a fund drive to raise another $500,000 to complete those projects.

For updates, go to, or call the Clayton County Conservation Board, 563-245-1516.