Motor Mill Foundation

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Motor Mill Foundation of Clayton County,
29862 Osborne Rd.,
Elkader, Iowa 52043

Our Mission:

To protect and preserve the architectural integrity, history, natural beauty and serenity of the Motor Mill site and its surroundings and to develop appropriate uses and interpretation as a regional treasure for the benefit of future generations.

The Motor Mill Advisory Committee

In 2002, the CCCB looked to the public for guidance and assistance to develop a long-range plan for the entire Motor Mill Site.  As a result, the Motor Mill Advisory Committee was formed in March of 2002.  The Motor Mill Advisory Committee, made up of a diverse group of volunteers, began to develop a mission statement and set goals.

In the winter of 2003, an afternoon of sharing Motor memories was held at Osborne Park.  Area residents and former residents of Motor met and told personal and family stories of Motor.  The oral history sessions were videotaped as many details and anecdotes were exchanged.

A video about Motor history was made in 2004.  If features historic and modern photos of Motor structures, landscape, colorful personalities and a timeline of project construction, mill operation, decline, changes, current status and future plans for the site.

The Motor Mill Site was open for special occasions in the past as staffing allowed.  In 2005, the CCCB received funding through the AmeriCorps Program.  The AmeriCorps Member worked with Conservation Board staff on research, site promotion, land management projects, administration and worked with volunteers to have Motor Mill open for tours two weekends a month May through September.


Formation of the Motor Mill Foundation

In 2004, the Motor Mill Advisory Committee completed a Motor Mill Feasibility Study.  The study outlined 10 priority items for the future development and direction of the Motor Mill Site.  This became a guiding document for the Foundation.

One item included the creation of a foundation.  As a result, the Motor Mill Advisory Committee evolved into the Motor Mill Foundation of Clayton County in September 2004.  Their mission is “To protect and reserve the architectural integrity, history, natural beauty and serenity of the Motor Mill site and its surroundings and to develop appropriate uses and interpretation as a regional treasure for the benefit of future generations.”

The Motor Mill Foundation began planning the future direction of Motor with the development of a two year business plan.  The plan outlined 10 priority items including historical research, having the mill open for tours, becoming a 501c3 organization, scheduled educational events, Robert Grau Memorial Savanna restoration, investigate replacing roofs, bridge replacement, flood protection, development of a trail system and grant writing and fund raising efforts.

In 2005 Resource, Conservation and Development Board (RC&D) chose Motor Mill as one of their project sites.  As a result of this partnership, the RC&D has helped with long range planning and the pursuit of funding sources.

The Motor Mill Foundation received their 501c3 tax exempt status from the IRS in September 2006.  The designation allows the Motor Mill Foundation to write grants, hold their own accounts, and offer a tax benefit to donors.

Since this time the Motor Mill Foundation has been moving forward with many projects.  Please visit other areas of this website to locate Yearly Annual Reports, quarterly newsletters and press releases for up to date information and project status.


Current Members of the Foundation

President, John Nikolai: John is one of the founding members of the Motor Mill Foundation. He and his wife, Mary Fran, came to Clayton County in April of 1997 after living in the suburbs of Chicago. John has been very influential in several instances concerning the preservation and potential growth of Motor Mill.

Vice President, Jane Metcalf: Jane was newly elected as vice president Fall 2019 after several years demonstrating dedication to the educational efforts at the Mill. Jane is full of fresh new ideas and has added some great new annual events like the Motor Mill Bridge Lighting and the Art Festival. Jane has a strong connection to Motor Mill because she grew up just over the hill where she developed her passion for the historic site.

Treasurer, Chuck Morine: Chuck began assisting with the Mill when he first saw it many years ago in deep disrepair. He made it his duty to get involved and put in as much time and effort as he could to help rehabilitate Motor Mill to its former glory. He and his wife, Syd, both continue to give tours of the Mill.

Secretary, Larry Stone: An avid outdoorsmen, Larry’s love for Motor first bloomed during his many canoe/kayak floats along the Turkey River. Both a freelance photographer/writer and a former outdoor photographer/writer for the Des Moines Register, Larry has captured thousands of wonderful images of the site over the years. He and his family still greatly enjoy their trips down the river today and always regard seeing Motor Mill as a highlight.

Board Members

  • Lee Lenth: A veteran of the 101st Airborne Artillery Unit, Lee has lived in Clayton County for over 75 years. His continuing work on the farm, and with the Amish has given Lee an incredible love for carpentry, which is what first drew him to the Motor Mill Foundation.
  • Les Klink: August 11, 1926 – June 22, 2018. Former dedicated member Les Klink had personal ties to Motor Mill ever since his Grandfather purchased the Mill site in 1903 to use it for farming activities. The Klink family continued to farm the land until 1983 when they sold it to the Clayton County Conservation Board. Les still speaks fondly of his memories from living by the Mill.
  • Jon de Neui 
  • David Beck
  • Bob Bente
  • Ken Zichal
  • Chris Schoen
  • Mark Yackel-Juleen



  • Margaret Stone
  • Syd Morine
  • Steve Beaumont
  • Rick Dennler
  • Fred Stroschein
  • Greg Beisker
  • Roger Buchholz
  • Sandy Refle
  • Dean Refle
  • Verna Lenth

You can help preserve and protect this special place!