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This photo was used in an 1898 Geological Report of the area, and for a lack of a better term, this was referred to as “Skunk River Gorge”.
TR Hughes, builder of the mill that was to become Soper's Mill. He and S Eagleberger were elected J.P.s in the 1862 election and S Rich and SW Brouhard were elected Constables.

which were carried by ox team wagon to the railroad head. This rail head was at times as far away as 75 to 100 miles. This mill was at times referred to as “Milford Mill”. After the older boys of Thomas R. Hughes left to participate in the Civil War, they rarely came back to Iowa. Hughes sold the mill, which apparently had been somewhat modified to permit some grain milling, to Soper in 1866 and as the availability of logs decreased it was modified into only a grist mill for flour. Coon's biography says this mill was the first sawmill in the county.

By 1869, a brief newspaper article said the Mill had been constructed to contain only the “two runs of burrs” for the grinding of grain.

In 1896 there appeared an article in the Roland Paper asking the academic question as to why the law wasn't being followed in the case of the Milford Mills dam. There wasn't a fish ladder that permitted fish to migrate up the river and hundreds of good sized fish were being removed from the river by “any means”, including seines, sharp sticks, etc. The article lamented the fact that the fishing was nonexistent above the dam.

By 1896 the river flow was just beginning to recover from the drought of previous years, particularly 1895 when the river was at record low flow. In the Summer of 1896 there is an article in the Nevada Paper which reads-- “The jolliest picnic crowd yet was on Saturday last at the mill. It consisted of the McCallsburg Sunday school, and the leading feature of the program was the ladies' march up and down the middle of the river, which was greatly enjoyed by the male portion of the school, especially the part where the ladies jumped over the crawfish. Howard Reid and Ward Hamilton carried off the honors of the shooting match and Carl Anderson was obliged to go one half mile after a can of water”

Only by the most careful observation at the current time can one find any evidence of the dam's existence. The current road crosses the river at the site of the mill and the original house on the hillside is long gone.

The reconstructed Soper's Mill Dam on the South Skunk River serves also as a prop for this group of unidentified “vacationers” in circa 1896. For an enlargement of portions of this picture see page 305.
Above: A fantastic shot of the Mill Dam, probably in the mid 1890's. Reports are that the dam was rebuilt in 1894 or '95. Ames Historical Society hasn't been able to pinpoint it more accurately. When the picture is greatly enlarged, the grooves on the bark of the logs of the Dam become very discernible. Attempts to identify any of the thirty or so people have proven unsuccessful. Note the protection for the sluice and water wheel on the far right of the picture. The photos give the dam a much larger appearance than one would imagine looking at the area at the present time. See page 305.
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© 2012 Mark Christian
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