Sageville once claimed to be narrowest town in the world because it was three miles long but only had a few hundred feet of side streets; the town’s south end was all of 500 feet wide.
In 1833, Chester Sage and Brayton Bushee opened a sawmill on the east side of the Little Maquoketa River. This little settlement became known as Sageville and eventually became the terminus for a 30-foot-wide plank road from Dubuque; tolls for using the road were: 10¢ for a two horse vehicle, 15¢ for a four horse vehicle, and 5¢ for a man and horse; the road was built in 1851 and was used for 22 years. The Sage and Bushee mill closed during the Civil War, but milling remained Sageville’s main industry for decades. Harvey Thompson built a six-story mill along the Little Maquoketa River in 1852. In 1890, Joseph Rhomberg bought the mill site and hoped to convert it into a resort and lake; it never happened and the former mill was lost to fire in 1942. In 1950, a developer saw a need for low cost housing, so he built a residential community of modest cottages he called Daytonville. Unfortunately, he chose an area that was prone to flooding, so the development was not a big success; it was later annexed by Sageville. In case you are thinking of moving here, Sageville is the only incorporated city in Dubuque County without property taxes.
Mud Lake Park (11000 Golf Lake Rd.; 563.552.2746) is 5 miles northeast of Sageville; it is a quiet riverfront park with a campground, playground, and picnic tables.
The Little Maquoketa (Ma-COKE-uh-duh) River Mounds Preserve (563.556.6745) is just south of Sageville; it has a few informative signs about Indian mound building. If you need to stretch your legs, the trail is a moderately difficult uphill climb but once you reach the top, the mounds are fenced off and hidden by vegetation during the summer months.
Mud Lake Park (11000 Golf Lake Rd.; 563.552.2746; open April 15 to October 31) has 76 sites, more than half with electricity; more often than not, it seems like a quiet place to camp.
Bed and Breakfast
Tucked away into a narrow valley and resting atop a hill, the Quiet Walker Lodge (18132 Paradise Valley Road; 800.388.0942/563.552.1034; closed in Dec./Jan.; WiFi) is a gem in a serene location. With nine suites (all with private baths) divided between two buildings, the lodge is an elegant country escape that is a short 15-minute drive from Dubuque. The newer building, completed in 2010, has four suites decorated with a Native American theme, including original artwork; one of the suites is fully-accessible. Four of the five suites in the other building have heart-shaped whirlpool tubs. All rooms come standard with a small fridge and a microwave. The lodge welcomes adults only; let someone else care for your children and pets.
Heading upriver? Check out Sherrill.
Heading downriver? Check out Dubuque.
© Dean Klinkenberg, 2009
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