Turner Mill is one of many unique natural treasures that can be found off the Eleven Point River.
It is located 15 miles south on Highway 19 from Winona, Mo. You turn left or east on FS Road 3152. Go six miles down a gravel road then turn right onto FS 3190 and go another 2.5 miles till you reach the area.
John L. (Clay) Turner acquired the spring and adjacent 160 acres in the spring of 1891. Turner was a leading citizen in what became a self-sufficient community, known as the town of Surprise.
Surprise boasted a population of 50 citizens. Turner submitted a petition for a post office and was accepted by the government. Turner owned and operated a mill, general merchandise store, donated land and lumber for the Surprise School, and hired its teacher.
Clay Turner died in 1933. His community faded away shortly thereafter. Surprise School saw its last class graduate in 1945. The Surprise School house is still standing. It can be found past the circle drive on the road out of the area. There is a trail to the right about one-eighth of a mile back to see the school.
G.W. Decker operated a mill with a wooden overshot wheel before John L. (Clay) Turner bought the mill in 1891. After partially rebuilding the wheel, he refurbished the four-story mill building with a system of belts, pulleys and drive shafts, which in turn operated a planer, drill press, and various types of saws/equipment for grinding wheat and corn.
The post office was housed in one end of the mill. The possession of enough power to operate the mill and the maintenance of the wheel were ongoing concerns. Turner abandoned the wooden wheel in favor of a turbine, which furnished power until 1915.
The turbine was then replaced by a 25-foot steel overshot wheel hauled to the site in sections by oxen. Logs were brought to the mill by floating them down the Eleven Point River. Teams of oxen hauled the logs out of the river. At that time, roads were almost non-existent or very poor condition.