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[graphic header] The Amana Colonies: A National Register of Historic Places Travel Itinerary of a unique historic communal society in eastern Iowa

[graphic] Mill Race
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Scenic view of Mill Race
Photograph courtesy of Amana Heritage Society

Between 1865 and 1869, the Amana Colonists built a seven-mile-long canal stretching from the Iowa River near West Amana, through Middle Amana, then through Amana, and into Price Creek, just past town, where it continued to the river. They dug it with human, oxen, and steam power so it could provide waterpower to the mills in Middle Amana and Amana. A dredge helped to complete the project. The colonists built a dam to divert water from the Iowa River into the canal. The water turned water wheels, which in turn powered the shafts for the machinery in the mills. This race provided waterpower for the two textile mills and one flour mill which the society operated.

[Historic Photo]
Concrete was poured for the dam in 1908, the orignial 1865 the dam was wooden. A dredgeboat is in the background
Historic image courtesy of Amana Heritage Society

In the 1920s, the Society took out the shaft drives and replaced them with an electrical generator to power the machinery. A boat annually dredged the canal to remove silt until the electrical generators were installed and the water moved more constantly and less silt settled in the race. The millrace no longer powers the mills. The flood of 1993 put a stop to the generators because they require more water than the weakened sides of the race can contain. Hopefully, this is temporary and the millrace will be operable again in the near future. The Amana Colonies Historic Sites Foundation and the Amana Society, Inc. have secured grant monies to assist in repairing the millrace.

The Mill Race runs west-east through the Amana villages, from the Iowa River near West Amana past Amana. Drivers traveling north from Homestead on Hwy. 151 will pass over the Iowa River and then the Mill Race before they reach Amana Village.


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