During his career as a national park ranger Marty Koch got around quite a bit. He captured this photo of a sluice gate at at Alley Spring Mill in Ozark National Scenic Riverways in Missouri.
The mill has a long and colorful history. Park Service historians will tell you that "the present building was constructed during 1893-1894 by George Washington McCaskill as a merchant mill. It was larger than most mills in the Jacks Fork area and replaced an earlier mill on this same site that was built by 1868. Originally unpainted, it was first painted white with green trim, then later the famous red color associated with Alley Mill today."
The milling operation was expanded to include corn meal production as well as flour. Alley’s school in 1903 had an enrollment of 42 students. Church services were also held at the schoolhouse. Conrad Hug became the new owner in 1912, and made Alley one of Missouri’s first resorts, known as Crystal Spring Town Site. Glider swings for tourists were scattered around the spring and July Fourth was one of many festive celebrations. We may not know their names, but the story of Alley wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the farmers who brought grain and timber to be milled. It is easy to imagine a “spit and whittle club,” as folks swapped fishing tales and caught up on local news. There were an even earlier people at Alley, yet the records of their lives are vague. Archeological evidence suggests that Native Americans camped throughout the area. Alley Spring with its natural abundance of fresh water and game was used as a camp some ten thousand years ago!
Now living in St. Louis, Mr. Koch is a photography instructor and freelance writer with may published articles and photographs. He has authored two books of his photography and is working on a third. He enjoys hiking, camping, canoeing and of course, nature photography.
You can view more of his works at his website.