The Coralville wooden dam, undated


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A wooden dam built across the Iowa River. Trees line the side of either bank of the river behind the dam. Wood boards lay in haphazard piles along the shore closest to the photographer.

During an Iowa City Manufacturing Company meeting on May 18, 1842, there was a recommendation to dam the river and build a flour mill. Construction on both projects began in June of 1843.

Shareholders paid for their shares mostly through labor and groceries. As Lovetinsky notes, "An examination of the company's books showed that what probably was the most substantial structure west of the Mississippi River had cost but $25.00 in actual cash, with the balance paid for in dry goods, groceries, meat, and flour" (Lovetinsky et al., p. 12).

The flour company began grinding flour on January 1, 1844, but the business struggled and passed through many owners until 1848, when Ezekiel Clark and E.W. Lake of Ohio purchased both the dam and mill. The mill was officially named Clarksville, though often called the "Kirkwood Mill" after Clark's brother-in-law and future state governor Samuel J. Kirkwood purchased a quarter share of the company and became the mill's active manager in 1855 (Lovetinsky et al., p. 12).


Coralville Public Library. Coralville Digital History Library.




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Coralville, Iowa


“The Coralville wooden dam, undated,” Coralville Digital History Library, accessed July 14, 2024,

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