Archaeologists from IFPW at Fort Wayne are currently working at the site of the replacement dam at Koontz Lake where State Road 23 passes over it. The State Highway Department is building a new road, where the curve will be corrected, and the Department of Natural resources is rebuilding the dam.
An early grist mill was built there in 1851 by early settler Samuel Koontz, after first operating a saw mill and tannery on the site. An 1898 map of the area shows the Koontz “flouring mill” at the site and that Koontz owned some 200 acres of land. After one of Starke County’s first lawsuits, it was determined that Koontz had the legal right to dam the lake and use all its water to power his mill. Samuel Jr. operated a mill at Koontz Lake until 1925.
A spokesperson for the Highway Department says the archaeologists are performing a “minor” dig and hope to excavate and preserve about 35% of the mill’s original 19th century foundation The excavation work is not expected to delay construction of neither the dam nor the road project. Both are scheduled to be completed in the summer of 2012.