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Early Water-powered Industry


It’s doubtful that Agincourt ever boasted anything so grand as these, the Five Rise Locks at Bingley, in the U.K. Before the arrival of railroads, transport was chiefly by river and there was never a need for an engineering feat like Bingley — which I’ve visited twice in my life, so far, and would gladly go again but with a picnic lunch this time — due to Iowa’s mellow topography, except along the Mississippi. It is surprising, however, how many water-powered mills there were, each requiring some sort of dam or weir to create a millpond.

Something was built early in Agincourt’s history (about 1860) for the Occidental flour mill, on the Muskrat’s west bank. [The irony must have been lost on its founders.] What sort of dam/weir initially held back the river to power the mill isn’t determined (one of those gaps in the story and material culture of Agincourt that aren’t necessary) but it may have have been enhanced for the next piece of industry, the Syndicate Mill of 1868. Something like this sluice gate would have allowed the new mill to access that energy.


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