Welcome to Motor

2007 Annual Report





Table of Contents

Mission Statement

Foundation Business








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.


On April 19, 2007 the Motor Mill Foundation held their 2nd Annual Meeting at the Central State Bank Community Room.  The Foundation titled the meeting “Motor Mill in Motion”.  The Long-Range Visioning Plan was shared and the window replacement fund campaign was kicked off.

In February, Tom Gifford reported that the foundation’s 501(c)3 status makes the group a separate entity not covered under the county’s general insurance.  For this reason the Foundation approved the purchase of a liability policy from West Bend Mutual.

In March, the Foundation Board established work committees and chairs for each committee.  They are as follows:  Planning-All Board Members, Facilities-Lenth and deNeui, Grounds-Conservation Board staff, Communications-Nikolai, Education-Muller, Finance-Morine and Gifford, Historical-All Board Members.
At the regular meeting held on October 16, 2007, the Foundation held their annual election of officers.  The board officially received and accepted the resignation from Joleen Jansen and Jim Hosch.  The board accepted Betty Buchholz to fill the unexpired term of Jim Hosch.  The annual election of officers was held and the following were voted into office:  John Nikolai-President, Jon deNeui-Vice President, Larry Stone-Secretary and Chuck Morine-Treasurer.

Records have been kept recording the approximate number of volunteer hours Foundation Members and volunteers have donated to the Motor Mill.  Totals for 2007 were estimated at 1,240 hours of volunteer time.


2007 Visioning Plan

Beginning in December of 2006, the Motor Mill Foundation hired Molly Bagby to facilitate the development of a long-range visioning plan.  The board met once a month for four months to develop the plan which was approved on March 20, 2007. 



The stairway from the first to second floor was rebuilt to replicate the original stairs as much as possible.  A door and rails were added for safety and security purposes.  The stairway to the basement was also added.  However, these steps will not be completely finished until the silt is removed from the basement.

Mill Basement

The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs agreed to conduct a Technical Advisory Network (TAN) report to assess what might need to be done and how to proceed with the excavation of the silt in the basement of the mill.  Leah Rodgers of Central City was hired as the archeologist to conduct the TAN report.

The report was completed in September and recommended that we can clear the silt from the basement if we follow certain guidelines and have the supervision of a professional archeologist.  The board discussed sponsoring a field school at Motor to encourage volunteers and from college or university students.  The local FFA chapter is also interested in helping with the project and can apply for some grant funds to help with the costs.

Mill Windows

The Foundation began to raise money to replace the missing 38 windows in the mill.  Mr. Borntrager of Granger MN was contacted and agreed to build the 12-light windows for $54 each.  The estimated cost per window replacement is $200.  It was also decided the lower two levels of windows in the mill be fitted with shutters to reduce vandalism and improve security to the site.
The fund raising campaign was kicked off at the public meeting on April 19.

Les Klink presented over $4,000 which was raised by his extended family members to help with the window project.  In August, the Upper Mississippi Gaming Corporation donated $2,000 toward the window project.  In all 17 different donors helped raise a total of $7,970 toward the replacement of the windows in the mill.

The windows were ordered and have been delivered to the mill.  Grau Log and Lumber has agreed to cut white oak boards for the windowsills.  Replacement of the windows will take place in the spring of 2008.

The Foundation has now turned to replacing the windows in the cooperage.  As of this printing four donors have contributed $800 toward this project.


Using the recommendations generated in the Steinmetz report, the foundation is moving forward to replace the floor joists and flooring in the mill.  A temporary plywood floor was placed on the first floor in March to even the floor up for visitors during the 2007 tour season.

The purchase of the permanent flooring material has been provided by three grants.  The grants include the REAP HRDP Grant, Clayton County Foundation for the Future grant for $1,000 and from the Dubuque Racing Association for $3,100.

Approximately 250 2x12 rough cut white oak floor joists were ordered from Grau Logs and Lumber and have been delivered and are currently stored in the stable to air dry.  In November, 1,500 pieces of rough-sawn, number two pine, 1x6x12 from UBC was ordered to be used to replace flooring in the mill.  The lumber was then transported to the Cresco area to have tongue and groove cut.

Installation of the flooring material will begin sometime in 2008.


The Clayton County Board of Supervisors hired Calhoun, Burns and Associates of West Des Moines to complete engineering work on the bridge in August.  In October, deNeui received a copy of the report from the firm.  The report only gave reasons why the bridge would not meet standards and warned the county to proceed with caution if they (we) decided to build it.

Documents from John Thompson indicate that the original wooden bridge was made with Howe trusses with covered sides to protect the trusses.  This is the reason for the high sided wooden bridge.

Lighting Strike

It was discovered in June that the mill had been hit by lighting.  The strike blew off some shingles on the west peak, splintered one floor joist and may have moved the roof and loosened some mortar.

Flood Protection

In July deNeui met with Mark Huber to discuss flood protection for the Stable, Inn and Icehouse.  Huber will draw up a set of plans along with cost estimates and amount of material needed to construct an earthen levee.


A mill stone was donated by Terry Groth and family from Strawberry Point.  The stone came from an old farm site near Guttenberg and is reportable a stone from Motor.  The stone is displayed in the icehouse along with stones donated by Don Sass in 2006.

In November, a donation of 63 antique household and farm equipment items by the family of Ray and Bella Wright of Hiawatha was received.  The items are stored in the 2nd floor of the inn.


Robert Grau Memorial Savanna

The Robert Grau Memorial Savanna sign was installed along the trail to the rock quarry in May of 2007.  The Grau family worked with CCCB staff in the development and cost of the sign.

The Savanna was burned in April to help promote native savanna species and to control woody vegetation along with control of garlic mustard.  Efforts to control garlic mustard continued with chemical application, hand pulling and the use of a weed torch.  A volunteer work day was held on Saturday June 9th to pull the adult garlic mustard plants.  14 volunteers participated in the event and pulled 10 50-gallon bags of the plant.

Conservation staff also started to expand the savanna site and removed prickly ash as well.  As part of this project, a new trail will be developed between the cooperage and the white house.  The new trail will replace the trail with the steps by the cooperage due to safety issues.  The new trail will also take visitors past the stone wall that was used as part of the cable car system.

Additionally, the conservation staff developed a plan to increase the plant diversity of the site by planting savanna species plugs in the spring of 2008.  The Grau family has generously agreed to pay for the project.


REAP Day at the Capital

On February 21, Lenth, Morine, Stone and Nikolai went to Des Moines to the state capital for REAP Day at the Capital.  The delegation set up a promotional table and visited with law makers about the importance of REAP and what it means to Clayton County.


Joleen Jansen of Jansen Products of Elkader has continued to offer her time and talent in the continued development and updating of the Motor Mill website located at  The website contains information on Motor Mill including the history, upcoming events and tour dates along with successes recently achieved by the foundation.  In 2006 the website received 507 unique visitors and in 2007 it received 1,202 unique visitors.

The value of the website has not been fully explored and we are learning more uses for it.  For example when we were contacted by an artist on the east coast, foundation members were able to guide the artist to the website for more information which also added credibility to the organization.  Additionally, we are linking the Motor Mill website to other sites to help promote Motor Mill.


The Motor Mill Foundation Newsletter is used to keep interested visitors and parties informed about the progress and events happening at Motor Mill.  Milling Around was produced four times in 2007 and goes out to a readership of approximately 225 readers.  Approximately half of the newsletters are sent out via e-mail and half by snail mail.


Jean Marie Hall wrote a three part story about Motor Mill that appeared in area newspapers.  The stories centered on the history of Motor Mill, the development of the Motor Mill Foundation and the future plans for the site.

Joleen Jansen had an article printed in The Tapestry Magazine about her personal first time experience at Motor Mill and the joy of living near the mill.  Additionally, articles appeared in area newspapers in early July when the mill was hit by a lighting strike.

Newspapers were also used to promote the Big Blue Sky Concert held on November 24.  This was done by purchasing ads along with several press releases.  There is certainly interest in the mill as other papers picked up the story and ran it.  Foundation members have had friends and family send copies of articles from outside the immediate area.
Parades and Booths

The Motor Mill Foundation ventured out beyond the Motor Mill Turkey River Valley to promote the site during area parades and events this year.  A parade float was built and members drove in the Garnavillo 4th of July Parade, Clermont Threshing Day Festival and Elkader Sweet Corn Days.  Members also walked along and gave out promotional brochures and fund raising information.

Several booths were also staffed this year including the Clayton County Fair, Plagman Barn and Heritage Days at the Osborne Center.  This was a great way to promote the site and Foundation Members learned that there is a lot of interest in Motor Mill and area residents are behind the projects and efforts being made at the mill.



The mill was open for tours two weekends a month May through September representing 11 weekends for a total of 24 days.  There were 13 special tours given over the course of the season as well.  The Special Tours included, Soil & Water District Commissioners, Native Plant Society, Freedom Bank, Cedar Valley Paddlers, Iowa Wesleyan College, Boy Scout Troop, Turkey River Clean up, Guttenberg Ladies Club, Ingelside Club, Wyalusing Academy, Clayton County Artists, Cedar Rapids Antique Auto Club, and a small group from Iowa City.

In all, there were 858 recorded visitors to the mill in 2007.  Of this total 237 were part of a special tour group.  Visitors represented 20 states.  11 volunteer tour guides donated their time during the open weekends and special tours for the season.


The Civil War Living History Camp was held for the third year on the weekend of May 19 and 20.  About 25 to 30 people dressed in military or Civil War era civilian costumes camped for the weekend and put on several demonstrations.  This was also the first weekend the mill was open for tours. 

The Turkey River Rendezvous was held at the Motor Mill September 15 and 16, 2007.  The mill was open this weekend as well. 

Traffic Control

Before the tour season started, road signs at the intersection of Grape Road and Galaxy Road were upgraded.  The new signs are larger, easier to see and closer to the intersection.  By doing this, drivers were able to see the intersection better.

Along with that, problems with traffic going past the mill too fast during open weekends were addressed.  Several 50 gallon yellow barrels were placed along the road near the mill entrance to protect pedestrians coming out of the mill.  Along with this, sawhorses with a pedestrian sign were placed on each end of the Motor Mill site attempting to slow traffic going past the mill.

Turkey River Mills

Lenth is working with several people to promote historic mills on the Turkey River.  Other sites include Spillville, Elkader, Elgin, Fort Atkinson, Eldorado and perhaps Cresco.


Big Blue Sky Concert

The Motor Mill Foundation sponsored, promoted and coordinated a Benefit Concert held at the Elkader Opera House on Saturday November 24, 2007.  The Big Blue Sky Band was recruited to perform the concert.

The Foundation planned the concert and sought sponsorships for the event to offset costs and raise money and awareness of the restoration efforts at Motor Mill.  Sponsorships came from approximately 50 businesses and individuals.

An auction was added to the concert this year.  There was a silent auction and a live auction held after the intermission.  There were approximately 35 auction items sold that evening.  Ticket prices were raised from $10 to $15 this year.  After expenses, the event raised $7,041.10 in funds to be used toward the Motor Mill.  CD sales from the 2006 concert are steadily being sold.  In 2007, an additional order for CD’s was made and is continually being sold.

Art by Gordy

Gordy Callison of Historical Re-Creations, contacted the Foundation regarding doing a pen and ink drawing of Motor Mill from a birds-eye-view of Motor in the 1870’s.  Members met with Gordy and Ivan Hardt to discuss the proposed pen and ink drawing.  Callison has already begun work under an agreement with Hardt.

The Foundation needed a second sponsor for a second drawing from a different view of the Motor Mill town site.  Foundation members met with Alan Johnson of Elkader and Johnson agreed to sponsor both of Callison’s drawings.  Johnson will retain the originals, while the Foundation would receive the rights to reproduce the art for fund-raising and promotion purposes.

Fund Raising Campaign

Ray German spoke to the Foundation in May regarding developing a Fund Raising Campaign.  As a result, Foundation members began pulling together names of individuals and businesses to contact.  A membership drive was also discussed but no action was taken.

Nikolai will be making presentations to service organizations in Clayton County during the winter months of 2007 and 2008.  His presentation will include promoting the Motor Mill site, projects and assistance in fund raising efforts.

deNeui noted the Foundation’s need for money in three categories:  everyday expense, capital restoration projects and an endowment for long-term predictable income.  He emphasized that we need to begin an on-going campaign for fund raising, and that the Foundation needs to understand that our success depends on ourselves.


1.  Historical Resource Development Program (REAP HRDP) State Historical Society of Iowa

Date Received:  August 2006
Date Due:  January 15, 2009
Grant Amount:  $38,500 reimbursable
Match Money Required: $19,900 includes $10,400 for Engelhardt’s time and $9,500 actual cash
In-Kind Match:  $25,045 includes baseline drawings and volunteer hours
Total Project Cost:  $83,445

Project Description:  The grant funds will be used for engineering, baseline drawings, construction documentation, emergency construction repairs, mothballing/safety issues, joists, beams, flooring, TAN Services, time for Engelhardt and volunteers.
Current Statues:  Engineering report completed.  Base line drawings completed.  Emergency construction repairs partially completed.  Mothballing/safety issues partially completed.  The purchase of joists, beams, and flooring is partially completed but not installed.  Engelhardt’s time and volunteer time has been partially completed.

We have received one reimbursement check for $6,972.83.  When all of the invoices have been received for the floor joists and flooring and payment has been made, a second request for reimbursement will be requested which should total an estimated $4,000.  When the windows are completed and installed the entire amount of the windows is reimbursable.

2.  Clayton County Foundation for the Future

Date Received:  April 2007
Date Due:  December 15, 2007
Grant Amount:  $1,000
Match Money Required:  $2,100
Total Project:  $3,100

Project Description:  Funds are to be used for the purchase and replacement of floor joists.

Current Statues:  The $2,100 match was met with the $3,100 grant from the Dubuque Racing Association.  The invoices, proof of match money, and necessary paper work has been completed and sent in.  The grant is considered completed and closed.

3.  Dubuque Racing Association

Date Received:  June 2007
Date Due:  January 30, 2008
Grant Amount:  $3,100 reimbursable
Match Money Required:  $0

Project Description:  Funds will be used for the purchase of flooring and floor joists in the Mill.

Current Statues:  Flooring invoice has been received and have fill out necessary forms for reimbursement.  Waiting to receive reimbursement check and then grant will be closed.

4.  Upper Mississippi Gaming Corporation

Date Received:  August 2007
Date Due:  January 2008
Grant Amount:  $2,000
Match Money Required:  $0

Project Description:  The funds were donated by the UMGC for the replacement of 10 windows in the Motor Mill.

Current Statues:  The windows have been ordered.  Grant considered closed.

5.  Historic Site Preservation Grant Program (HSPG) State Historical Society of Iowa.

Date Received:  February 2007
Date Due:  June 30, 2009
Grant Amount:  $55,400 reimbursable
Match Money Required:  $55,800
Total Cost of Project:  $111,200

Project Description:  The funds are to be used for the architectural design and documentation along with the replacement of the roof and two chimneys on the Motor Mill and the replacement of the roof on the Motor Mill Inn.

Current Statues:  Steinmetz has been contacted and will be up in spring to begin bid sheet process.  No other work has started. 

6.  The National Trust for Historic Preservation

Date Received:  December 2007
Date Due:  December 2008
Grant Amount:  $1,500
Match Money Required: $1,500
Total Project Cost:  $5,700

Project Description:  Have an engineering and architectural report completed along with a repair cost estimate done for the Inn and Stable at Motor Mill. 

Current Statues:  Work has not started on this project.  Steinmetz has been contacted and will be up in the spring.  The CCCB will be applying for a CCCF grant (Jan 31) and an Alliant Energy Grant (Feb 1) to help with matching funds.

Total Number of Grants: 6 Grants
Total Grant Amount Received:  $101,500
Total Match Money Required:  $79,300