Dredging Amana's Millrace

Dredging Amana's Millrace (HMWJX)

Location: Amana, IA 52203 Iowa County
Country: United States of America

N 41° 47.783', W 91° 51.916'

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The Amana Millrace begins 6.5 miles west of here at the Iowa River. Workers from the seven Amana villages first began construction in 1865 using hand tools and oxen-drawn scrapers and wagons. The earthen levees were reinforced with wood posts and fascines, bundles of sticks and branches bound tightly together. Progress on the canal was slow until the community purchased a stream (sic) powered dredge to complete the project. Water first flowed through the turbines in Amana in 1869

as difficult as its construction was, maintaining the millrace has proven to be just as challenging. Siltation in the canal has been a constant problem. In the 19th and early 20th centuries dredge boats were used to keep the channel flowing. Each year the dredge boat and its crew would work their way upstream from here. The four-man crew lived on the boat. The kitchen houses in the village closest to where the dredge was working provided meals for the crew. Colony folklore has it that the canal is deepest near Middle Amana because the dredge boat crew was fond of Middle Amana cooking and lingered there.

Dredging the canal required that each bridge over the millrace be dismantled and reassembled as the dredge passed. In winter the dredge was moored just upstream from this location. In the 1920s the dredge boats were replaced with gasoline powered draglines that traveled along the levees.

The millrace dredge working near the village of Amana ca 1920. Photo courtesy of the Amana Heritage Society.

Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Friday, October 17th, 2014 at 3:01pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)15T E 594275 N 4627791
Decimal Degrees41.79638333, -91.86526667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 41° 47.783', W 91° 51.916'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds41° 47' 46.98" N, 91° 51' 54.96" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)319
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 8 48th Ave, Amana IA 52203, US
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