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Soper's Mill Dam as a social get together spot in the mid to late 1890's.
Photos from Ames Historical Society
This glimpse into a Sunday afternoon travel adventure for a group of folks in the 1890's is a fantastic study in dress and a very good look at the construction of the Soper's Mill Dam. One source says that when Swearingen bought the site in 1896 he put a lot of money into the reconstruction of the dam and another source says that the Dam was reconstructed in about 1894. Which ever is correct, this photo shows a very water tight dam as the logs are not wet on the right side of the view. The size and the straightness of the logs is very impressive along with the dovetailing of the joints etc. Then it is topped with 3" planks that go back under the water so ice can slide over the dam in spring. It is fun to attempt to guess what the occasion was for this tour and where the people came from as no vehicle is visible. The fashions are very evident with the bowler hats bow ties, and the vests, and the pointed shoes. Only three fellows out of about twenty are hatless. The man with the fishing pole in the lower photo sports a watch fob and the man in the white hat appears to have a cumberbun. The ladies fashions are nothing short of elegant with their fancy Sunday hats, collars buttoned to the chin, and long skirts with the puffed upper sleeves. It makes one wonder how and how long it took for the ladies to get into the relaxed poses for the camera. It might be expected these folks are not from the local area, perhaps they came from Ames on the train to Gilbert and then by carriages to the site. Such outings were quite popular and the train companies used them quite often with prices that were hard to refuse. The companies might call them "Flower Picking Excursions". They were very popular in the Rocky Mts. See also page 50.
Page 309 of 354

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