Farmers in the Gays Mills area learned early that the land on both sides of the Kickapoo River offered excellent conditions for apple-growing. In 1905, John Hays and Ben Twining collected apples from eight to ten farmers around Gays Mills for exhibit at the State Fair. The exhibit won first prize, then went on to capture first honors in a national apple show in New York. This experience prompted the Wisconsin State Horticulture Society to urge a project of "trial orchards" around the state to interest growers in commercial production. The society examined a site on High Ridge and planted five acres with five recommended varieties.
By 1911, the orchard had grown so vigorously that an organization was formed in Gays Mills to promote the selling of orchards. Today, more than a thousand acres here produce apples nationally known for their color and flavor.
Gays Mills Apple Capital of Wisconsin