Historic Mills of the Cannon Valley

An excerpt from Historic Mills of the Cannon Valley by Jeff Jarvis:

King Mill - Faribault, MN

“Before the road and highway system we enjoy today was in place, the Cannon River waterway was used for centuries by the Dakota Sioux for transportation through the interior of southern Minnesota territory. This route enabled the Indians to trade, hunt and travel from the Mississippi all the way to present-day Mankato, using the river and lake system.”

“One of the first steamboats on the Cannon River was built by Captain Hall of Morristown as a source of transportation. A source of pride for Morristown, the boat was used to bring loads of grain from Waterville to be ground at Hershey Grist Mill in Morristown. Hall also boarded passengers for cruises up the Cannon River from Morristown to Waterville, passing many points of interest, with Maiden Rock being one of them.”

“Because the river’s water level fluctuated so much, some trips were taken during low water times. In these cases, the passengers were instructed by the captain to rock the boat side-to-side to help the boat over rocks and sandbars submerged in the shallow water. The boat was eventually sold to Lougee and Renslow to provide steamboat excursions on Cannon Lake in 1878. By 1880, its new name became ‘The Lady of the Lake” and was docked on Cannon Lake at the famous Polar Star Mill (later known as the King Mill).”


  1. Dan Sachau says


    I am working on a short history of Volkville. This was a sawmill locared near lake washington in the 1860s. I am having a hard time finding drawings,photos or maps of the mill/town. I am wondering if you might know where I could find some.


    Dan Sachau

  2. Debra Morris says

    Not sure if you remember me. It’s been 10 years since I made the trip to Morristown for Dam Days. We met at the Morristown Mill and you graciously invited me to your home in Waterville for dinner. I had the privilege of meeting your partner Dorothy and her son, whose name escapes me.
    You gave me a print of your drawing of a “Spring Day at the Sioux Village” which I have framed above my desk.
    I would love a copy of your book of the historic mills along the Cannon River. I don’t see a link to be able to purchase it on-line.
    I’ve started my book about Sarah Morris and the early days of Morristown. It’s taken me 10 years and a lot of changes in my life to finally find myself in a place where the story can emerge. I know your book will help to fill in some of the blanks in my story.
    I’d love to hear from you. Hope all is well with you and yours.
    Debra Morris

    • HI Deb, yes i remember you. Anything new in your research into the Morris family? Are you on Facebook? Find me at “jeff jarvis” or “historic mills of the cannon valley”
      Take care thanks for looking me up.

    • Exciting to hear of your project Debra. Life has its way with us, and i am glad you are able to find it in yourself to do the writing.
      If you are interested in my story i have written about morristown i would be glad to swap it for what you have written about the early days of morristown and the Morris family. It would benefit us both i am sure. My book is not yet published for a variety of reasons. Sorry for the delay to your email but i don’t often check the website email portal. If you are on Facebook, i do have “historic mills of the cannon valley that i put stuff on. check it out! my regular email address is historicmills@gmail.com and my cell is 507-339-8765.

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