The community of Caplinger originated as Sacville, Missouri in 1870 because of it’s location along the Sac River. Prior to any township, a grist mill site was purchased by John G. Williams in 1840 along the Sac River. In 1842 he sold the nearly completed mill to the three Caplinger brothers from Tennessee who put the mill into operation.
In 1863 bushwhackers known as Shelby’s Raiders burned the mill down during the Civil War. Three years later, in 1866 Andrew Masters purchased and ran the Sacville Flouring and Saw Mill. Two years later a dam was built to control flooding.
The Chicago Bridge Company built the grand iconic iron bridge of four spans in 1895.
The name Sacville changed to Caplinger about the turn of the century to honor the family who ran the largest enterprise in the area. At that time there was quite a lot of commerce in and around the area including the mills, bank, retail, and other services.
In 1919 and again in 1920 part of the dam gave-way and washed out the east end of the bridge. Another span is soon added to the iron bridge.
Electricity was first produced at the dam and mill in 1917. Then in 1925 Ozark Utilities Company built a powerhouse on the east side of the river. Empire Electric closed the power plant in 1953-54.
The mill burned several times (1853, 1863, 1947, and 1953) and after the 1953 fire the mill was never rebuilt. But the foundation and dam still exist.
In 1989 the Caplinger Mills Bridge Preservation Society acquired the dam, park and power house. The bridge is now open to foot traffic only. There are campgrounds on both sides of the river, canoe/kayak rental and some decent fishing if you know where to land a lure. It’s also a good spot for photos as Michele and I found out.
If you’ve never been to Caplinger Mills take a country cruise to see this once buzzing place of commerce and still a place of local natural beauty. From El Dorado Springs take US Hwy 54 east to Hwy 39 south from Cedar Springs. Head east on Hwy N and take a right (east) on “N Spur” (County Road 1401).