Category Archives: MFH

Seen on Today’s Run

A few feet away from this photo is the trailhead and parking lot to the Eagle Scout trail in the Mines of Spain.  The Eagle Scout 10k is a challenging run in the MoS.  It’s a relatively secluded trail with almost 1000′ elevation gain.

It’s a tough run and a blast but that’s not what we’re here to talk about.  We’re going to chat about what I saw on yesterday’s run.

You’ll notice in the first photo all the overgrowth and wild flowers?  This past fall, the last time MFH (My Favorite Husband) and I drove over to run Eagle Scout, we noticed that they’d done a lot of mowing.  Much of the tall wild grass was gone.  We were puzzled but chalked it up to some maintenance in the Mines. Before we get into that, just one more photo of the Mines of Spain just because it’s such a beautiful place and I love this photo!

#1 Son ran Eagle Scout last weekend and reported that a lot of the trees surrounding the parking lot had been cut down.  This was a huge surprise!  Why would they be cutting down the trees? First they’d mowed and now the trees?  #1 Son said there had been a lot more mowing as well but he didn’t know what was happening.

Enter yesterday’s run:

I decided to run just the road that ran through the MoS.  It’s a nice run of rolling hills with lots of beauty to enjoy when the running gets challenging.  As I was almost at the end of the road, I was passing the Eagle Scout parking lot and was astounded at the sight of practically every tree gone!  So much of the tall wild grass had been mowed.  It looked stark and naked.  I was displeased….not that it’s any of my business or anything.

Still, there was the matter of another 4 miles to run so I kept going when I bumped into a guy out on his morning walk.

Okay, so I’m snoopy.  I can’t help it!  I asked the man, Do you know what they’re doing over there?

He didn’t.  We ended up discussing the new construction over at the Convent.  He’s not a fan of the new construction.

After reaching the end of the road in the Mines, I turned around to retrace my steps and the man turned right onto the hwy so I lost my buddy but I was dying of curiosity!

When I reached the Eagle Scout Trailhead again, there was a guy working in a Bobcat with a big circular saw on it and he was cutting through tree stumps.   I decided to marched over to where he was working.  These are the things I saw while walking over to, “Bobcat Man.”

This is the foundation of an old farm house dating back to the mid 1880’s.

This is one wall of an old outbuilding from that farm but I don’t know the date of the building.

A millstone!!!  I couldn’t believe it!  There had been a mill here!  That millstone made it so I had to talk to Bobcat Man and find out what was going on.

Come to find out, the was the original farm of the Preston’s.  This family owned the second oldest farm in Iowa’s history and this was the site of their farm.  The MoS was unearthing the remains!   Here’s a little of what I discovered about the Preston family.   I’ll include the link so you can go and read more if you’re interested:

https://npgallery.nps.gov/NRHP/GetAsset/NRHP/64500171_text

“The Preston family once held somewhat less than one-half of the 1273 acres now within in Mines of Spain Area. Originally from Bucks County, Pennsylvania and later living in Maryland and Vermont, Slyvester Bills Preston (1804-1852) migrated to Mineral Point, Wisconsin in 1835. Trained as a chemist and associated with copper smelting after his arrival in the Midwest, Preston oversaw the operation of the smelter at Mineral Point between 1835 and 1843. Between 1841 and 1843, he owned the Preston and Company furnace whose limited success was attributed to the discontinuous deposits of copper in the Mineral Point area. During this period, he claimed 640 acres in sections 8 and 9, T88N R3E. Although he settled there briefly in 1839, the uncertain status of the land claims probably prevented his permanent occupance until 1843. Sometime in the late 1830s or early 1840s, Preston erected a dwelling in the southern portion of SE1/4, NE1/4, section 8. He continued to erect copper smelters at Ste. Marie, Michigan and Merimac, Missouri in the late 1840’s. With the help of his sons, Preston also operated a farm at his homestead.”

“Sylvester Preston died in 1852. The family divided his 747 acre estate, known as Cottage Hill, among his children and widow, Anna West, about 1869. Anna received the inheritance of David Preston who died in the Civil War. This share included the east portion of section 9 and section 4 which she rented as mineral lands* After her death in 1882, Slyvester II and Vasa Preston inherited much of this land. At the time of the property division in 1869, Mary E. Preston lived with her husband Guy Morrison in California and received a monetary settlement. Guy Morrison had been attracted west by the gold rush in 1851 and his wife followed in 1854. However, while living in the Mines of Spain Area until 1854, the Morrisons owned lands in sections 4 and 8 and probably a dwelling in government fractional section 4. Its location remains unidentified.”

As Bobcat Man and I chatted, he shared with me all sorts of MoS trivia.  He then pointed across the horizon.  See that round tree up on the hill, He asked?  I did!  Under that tree is the Preston Family Cemetery.  The Preston’s who established this farm are buried there.  It’s a small cemetery.

I asked if I could go see it and was told about a little access road I could hike to get back there.  I wanted to make sure it wasn’t breaking any laws or anything but he said I could go, so I did!

Can you see the round tree behind me?  That was the tree Bobcat Man pointed out to me.  It was a little hike back to the cemetery but not too bad?  Maybe 3 tenths of a mile.

Here’s the cemetery.  I took a pic but made sure the stones couldn’t be read out of privacy and respect to the family.

The family has it fenced off even with a little barbed wire!  Guess maybe they’ve had some vandalism problems in the past which is a shame.  I was thrilled to get to see the plot!

It’s a sweet, secluded and very private place and I loved it!

So, that’s what I saw on yesterday’s run!  No gloves on stick or toilet seats on poles along the road, just some really awesome Iowa and Mines of Spain history!

#IRun4Aiden