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.
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.
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.