Gays Mills is a village in Crawford County, Wisconsin. The population was 491 at the 2010 census.
In 1847 James B. Gay, a native of Indiana, built a dam and a sawmill on the Kickapoo River, which proved to be a flourishing success. Gays Mills was born. The sawmills disappeared and the only way Gays Mills continued its existence is by leaning heavily on the local orchards.
The Kickapoo River that caused the village to exist has been raising havoc in the last 65 years with the residents of the flood plain in Gays Mills.
We lived 33 steps from the Kickapoo River. The river was my baby sitter for many a summer day. I sent much of my youth pursuing pike and walleye there.
I can remember as a small boy going to sleep in the downstairs bedroom and waking up and rolling out of bed to be startled by ankle deep flood water in our house.
The flood of 1978 was the first straw. It was a historic flood and it caused the first wave of residents to move out on the north side of town on the sandy hillside. My mother's home was the third home out there. My mother in law still lives in that flood plain.
Recent floods are the final straw and have caused the state and federal government to step in and relocate any businesses and homes out of the flood plain that care to leave .
It is quite ironic that the Kickapoo River breathed life in to Gays Mills and it is taking it away now. A few are staying put in the flood plain. This is where they have always lived or had their businesses and they are not leaving.
The new village has a sterile atmosphere. The building are all similar and lack character and small town charm.
I recommend going to see Gays Mills before she disappears in to the mist like "Brigadoon" of lore.