Read all about the fascinating history of Henry County's Conservation area.

 





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Henry County Conservation Department

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oaklandmills

oaklandmills


  History

In 1833, thirty years after the Louisiana Territory was purchased from France, President Jackson gave settlers permission to cross the Mississippi River to buy land. In this early scramble, a small group of people made their way up the Skunk (Chicauqua) River and settled in an oak tree covered valley. They named the area Oakland.

Oakland Mills Gristmill
LARGE BUILDING ON RIGHT IS
OAKLAND MILLS GRISTMILL - CIRCA LATE 1800's
 By 1839, a wood-stone dam had been built and a grist mill was being constructed. Next, a saw mill was built on the south side of the river and later the grist mill was followed by a woolen mill. All this occurred before Iowa became a state on December 28, 1846.
Eventually, a school, church, hotel, and store were built in this rapidly growing community. Travelers crossed the river by ferry until the wagon bridge was constructed in 1876. In 1914, an electric power plant took the place of the grist mill.
Hydroelectric Dam
COMPLETED HYDROELECTRIC DAM

Today, we know this area as Oakland Mills, Iowa. A few of these historical landmarks are still standing- the dam, church, schoolhouse bell, and wagon bridge (closed to traffic in 1970 and is now used as a footbridge). Another familiar spot is Butch's River Rock Cafe, the former depot of the K-Line Railroad, which sits north of the original Oakland Mills Store site. Visitors to the area can usually find an “old timer” with memories to share to bring this history to life for those willing to listen.

 
             

Prairie

Recreation Area Campground

River Road

Ross Observation Tower