"SHSI Certificate of Recognition"
"Best on the Web"

Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
Marshall Cohen—researcher and producer, CNN

Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


From Encyclopedia Dubuque
Jump to navigationJump to search
The ruins of Moore's mill

MOORE'S MILL. Martin H. MOORE and Newell S. Moore were two brothers who came to Dubuque in 1865 from Waterloo, Iowa where they had been involved in banking and lumbering. In 1866 they established the DUBUQUE LUMBER COMPANY and in 1867 constructed a lumber mill at a cost of $75,000. Its location was south of Dubuque near an area later called RAFFERTY SLOUGH and in recent years Maus Park. At its peak production, the mill was the second largest milling operation between Minneapolis and St. Louis. (1) In June of 1873, the Dubuque Herald announced that the mill sawed 50,000 feet of lumber in a half day. (2)

The crew of those who worked at Moore's Mill. Note the ethnic descriptions in the caption. Photo courtesy: Telegraph Herald
The Dubuque Lumber Company as it existed near Maus Park.

On April 29, 1870 the mill and machinery were destroyed by fire. Adequate insurance and the salvage of most of the lumber in the yard, however, allowed the company to resume business. In 1872 a second fire caused by sparks and cinders from a passing train resulted in $100,000 in damages. In 1876 a third fire destroyed part of the new mill and an estimated four million feel of lumber. This catastrophe forced one hundred workers each earning $10 per week out of work--a great economic blow to the community. Despite attempts to purchase logs from Tennessee and have them shipped to the mill, the operation was forced to close. (3)

In April, 1885 the mill was getting ready for a busy season. With a capacity of cutting 125,000 feet of lumber daily, the company was preparing to work for the C. W. ROBINSON COMPANY. N. S. Moore would again represent his interest and act as superintendent. (4)

The mill in 1890 provided work for two hundred employees. (5) In March 1891 Newell S. Moore left the local company after purchasing a lumber yard in Akron, Iowa. (6) Soon after that, the mill was closed.

In 1892 M. H. Moore, a leading official in the Dubuque Lumber Company, suggested that a syndicate could be formed that would have refusal on the property until January 1, 1893 equal to the indebtedness of the company to bondholders. A second option would be to have the syndicate furnish $1,000 for repairs for a lease on the mill with no no rental payments until profits were earned. The owners of the mill property were willing to take a share of the profits rather than rent. Moore suggested that two local retail yards would like to purchase lumber at wholesale and that a person who had never cut logs before was ready to supply enough to create 20 million feet of lumber. (7)

The ruins of the mill including the 150 foot tall smokestack remained visible through the 1930s when the area became a Dubuque's HOOVERVILLE. Residents during the 1950s expressed an interest in preserving the smokestack as a landmark of the lumber industry. (8)

City officials began studying the possibilities of developing the site for recreational purposes in 1962. It was generally agreed that dredging the slough would be the largest cost. Other problems arose. For the state to be willing to stock fish, 20% of the pond had to be at least eight feet deep. A storm sewer located in the northwest corner of the slough threatened to pollute the pond with street sale. Because the pond was within the $5.5 million federal flood control project, its size--about twelve acres--could not be reduced. (9) Attention was also paid to the smokestack. Tuck pointing and other necessary repairs were estimated to cost between $3,500 and $5,000.

Photo courtesy: Telegraph Herald.
Photo courtesy: Telegraph Herald.

In May 1964, the tower was torn down. (10) Working together the Dock Commission, City Park Board, and the Dubuque County Conservation Society created a recreational area which became Maus Conservation Park. (11)



1. "Moore's Mill Stack Yanked Down," Telegraph Herald, May 2, 1964, p. 1

2. "Caught on the Fly," Dubuque Herald, June 29, 1873, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18730629&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

3. "Moore's Mill..."

4. "Moore's Mill," The Dubuque Herald, April 25, 1885, p. 4

5. "Local News in Brief," Dubuque Daily Herald, May 10, 1890, p. 8. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=_OG5zn83XeQC&dat=18900511&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

6. "A Citizen's Departure," Dubuque Daily Herald, March 10, 1891, p. 4

7. "To Secure a Saw Mill," Dubuque Daily Herald, February 4, 1892, p. 8

8. "Moore's Mill..."

9. "City Officials Study Moore's Mill Project," Telegraph Herald, June 7, 1962, p. 1

10. "Moore's Mill Stack..."

11. Ibid.

Gibson, Michael. "Yesterday and Today," The Golden View, January, 2011

See: DUBUQUE LUMBER COMPANY. (Photo Courtesy: http://www.dubuquepostcards.com)