Population (2010)

Unincorporated

Introduction

There isn’t much left of the village, but an impressive old mill is reason enough to stop in the area.

History

The village was initially known as McGilvery’s Landing because a guy named McGilvery ran a ferry from here. The village was named after a town in Vermont, presumably because one of the founders was from there, but no one really knows. La Moille was a bustling place for a time: it had a railroad station, a steamboat landing, and ferry service. Much of the shipping business came from the products of nearby Pickwick Mill. Most of the town’s buildings were sacrificed to progress when the highway was widened.

La Moille was the longtime home of Dan Hafner, a renowned rattlesnake hunter, who was so adept at hunting and handling them, he didn’t bother to wear gloves, boots, a hat, or a shirt when searching for them. He could reach into a lair and pull them out before they struck and was apparently never bitten. Don’t try that at home, kids.

Near La Moille, there was a cave with centuries-old pictographs, representations of animals carved in the sandstone that included a bird with its wings spread 3½ feet by 3 feet. The cave was flooded when the lock and dam system went operational, but it had already been vandalized by that time. There is a replica of the cave at the Winona County History Center.

Exploring the Area

Wilson and Timothy Davis and George Grant opened the Pickwick Mill (26421 County Highway 7; 507.457.0499) in 1858 and did their job so well that it was a working mill until 1978. Mary Davis chose the name after reading Charles Dickens’ novel Pickwick Papers. The mill is an impressive six stories tall, built from limestone quarried at nearby La Moille. The 20-foot overshot waterwheel produced the power to turn the millstones, helping the mill produce over 100 barrels of flour every day at its peak. A flood in 1980 caused extensive damage; local folks rallied to save it from demolition. There is a 20-minute video describing how the mill worked that is worth watching.

Sports & Recreation

If you’re in the mood for a good hike, check out the La Moille Unit of Richard J. Dorer Memorial Hardwood State Forest (). The 94-acre site has a mix of  old hardwood forest, abandoned quarry, and blufftop habitats, some with pretty darn good views of the river. There are some trails and old access roads, but as of 2018, there are no maps of the hiking trails. To get to the La Moille Unit, exit Highway 61 at La Moille and go north on La Moille Road. If you follow the dirt road that turns to the left after the pavement ends, you’ll find a small parking lot, but if your car isn’t fit for a rutty or possibly muddy back road, then you should park along La Moille Road and walk to the site.

Entertainment and Events

Festivals

Pickwick Mill Day (2nd Saturday in Sept.; 507.457.3296) celebrates the mill’s history with craft demonstrations, but the highlight is watching the mill’s original grinding operation put back in action.

**Looking for more places to visit along the Mississippi River? Check out Road Tripping Along the Great River Road, Vol. 1. Click the link above for more. Disclosure: This website may be compensated for linking to other sites or for sales of products we link to.

Where to Go Next

Heading upriver? Check out Homer.

Heading downriver? Check out Dakota.

Community-supported writing

If you like the content at the Mississippi Valley Traveler, please consider showing your support by making a one-time contribution or by subscribing through Patreon. Book sales don’t fully cover my costs, and I don’t have deep corporate pockets bankrolling my work. I’m a freelance writer bringing you stories about life along the Mississippi River. I need your help to keep this going. Every dollar you contribute makes it possible for me to continue sharing stories about America’s Greatest River!

Become a Patron

La Moille Photographs

©Dean Klinkenberg, 2011,2017