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Butte Creek Mill

Butte Creek Mill

Year Built: 1872
Location: Eagle Point, Oregon

Located in Eagle Point, The Butte Creek Mill was built in 1872 and situated on a steep bank on the west side of the Little Butte Creek.

Over 140 years ago, a ship sailed around the horn to Crescent City carrying giant stones, quarried in Paris, France for grinding stone into flour, which the mill still uses. Built on the banks of Little Butte Creek, under the name Snowy Butte Flour Mill, local farmers would bring their wheat to the mill, their wagons lining the road for miles. The mill began operation in 1872. The miller was paid for his services by keeping every seventh bag of flour to sell in the Butte Creek general store.

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the Butte Creek Mill is one of two remaining water-powered mills in Oregon, and is the only mill that grinds flour. The water rights for the mill and the French burr grinding stones date back to 1872. It was the last water-powered gristmill, still commercially operating, this side of the Mississippi. The operation of the mill, the machinery and equipment are essentially the same as in the late 1800s.

Not only is the mill significant for its historic use and architecture, but it is also important for its water rights.  The rights protect the water flow of Little Butte Creek, which is one of the most important tributaries into the Rogue River.

Threats

A devastating fire broke out in the Butte Creek Mill on Christmas morning in 2015. It burnt down much of the mill, but the State Historic Preservation Office determined the mill was still eligible for listing in the National Register. However, without funding to restore the structure, what remains will be lost to the elements.  In addition, if the Butte Creek Mill is not restored, the economic effects for Eagle Point are significant.  Many of the restaurants and local small businesses have felt the financial impact of the Mill closure.  And more importantly, it is also the emotional connection that the entire Rogue Valley has to the Mill that would be an even greater loss to this community. It is difficult to find someone in the community that has not been touched in some way by the Mill.  It truly was, and will continue to be, the heart of Eagle Point.

Progress

Immediately after the devastating fire on Christmas morning, the community rallied together to preserve what was left after the fire and a call to rebuild was championed. The community formed a bucket brigade to move antiques from the site of the fire to a make-shift tent set up to preserve what was left from the fire. Once these treasures were safe, they began the process of preserving pieces of the structure to be reused when the process of restoration could begin.

The Butte Creek Mill Foundation was formed to spearhead the restoration. They have started a funding campaign to raise money to restore the mill. The local partnership has also convened the Timber Framers Guild to assist in reconstructing the mill in 2018. Restore Oregon has written letters of support for grant funding to bring the Timber Framers Guild to Eagle Creek.

This project was funded in part by the Oregon Cultural Trust and Kinsman foundation

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