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Butte Creek Mill
Historic Oregon Grist Mill
Experience History, Education and Cultural Celebration

A National Treasure..

A Living Treasure stands rustically over Little Butte Creek, water pouring out of her antique timbered side like it has for far over a century. Her belts, pulley's and stones have not stopped turning and telling the story of the people who settled the Oregon territory. It is not only a story of history but of the destiny of those who would preserve the treasure from extinction and share it with future generations.

Over 130 years ago, a ship sailed majestically around the horn to Crescent City carrying giant stones, quarried in France for the purpose of grinding stone into flour. The stones were carried over the mountains by wagon to Snowy Butte Creek Mill. A waterwheel did not power the mill but rather water flowed into a 12-foot deep penstock, it's weight creating the pressure that activated turbines powering the belts and pulleys that would move the giant stones.

The mill began operation in 1872. Farmers traveled from miles away, their wagons filled with grain lining the Old Military Road to Snowy Butte Creek Mill to have their flour ground. The miller was paid for his services by keeping every seventh bag of flour to sell in the Butte Creek general store. The Klamath Indians trekked 90 miles from Fort Klamath to trade berries and leather goods for flour.

History Meets Destiny

The history of Butte Creek Mill met the Destiny of Bob and Debbie Russell in 2005 when they purchased the old mill and it was once again given the breath of life. It was not the first time man's destiny would intervene to preserve her. Peter Crandall, the mills previous owner of 35 years, is credited with saving the mill, and upgrading and maintaining its machinery so it continued as a working thriving mill.

Peter, an avid history buff and serious collector of historic artifacts, found his motivation to upgrade the mill from his passion for history. A passion for history, alive in Bob Russell would bring the two men together seven years ago when Bob Russell made the trip from Portland to view Peter's collection of general store items at the mill. Bob and Peter were kindred spirits.

Bob had begun collecting pieces of American History since he was only nine years old. The year was 1959 and Kennedy and Nixon were running for President. Bob would begin his collection of campaign buttons that would include antique buttons from every Presidential campaign including President's McKinney and President Lincoln. During the 1960's and 70's, many historic buildings in Portland were torn down and Bob's collection grew as he saved many historic treasures from being lost.

When Peter decided to sell his General Store Collection in 2004, he naturally called Bob who came to Butte Creek Mill to take a look. When he arrived he learned that Peter was also selling the Mill and the torch would soon be passed to the Russell's securing the future of a National Historic site.

Center for Education and Cultural Celebration

With growth of population in the Rogue Valley and it's status as a destination for culinary tourism, Butte Creek Mill is serving residents and visitors even more than natural vitamin and mineral rich flours, grains and award winning baking mixes. It serves as a center for education and cultural celebration and it's full potential is being realized. The Russell's have the skills to see the mill into the 21st century. Having had a successful career in sales and marketing at Proctor and Gamble and in the Office supply business, Bob Russell brings years of business experience to the mill. Debbie's gifts lie in hospitality, product presentation and along with Bob organization and execution of the vision they share for the mill. This is a family affair with son Scott working with them. They also have two grown daughters who live in Portland.

Hundreds of Rogue Valley school children are coming through the mill and learning not only about American history, and the science and technology involved in the mill operation but they also learn about nutrition and ecology. Students discover that Butte Creek is one of the most important tributaries for Salmon and Steelhead joining the Rogue River. The water rights secured in the founding of the mill in 1872 mill, insure that the creek is a habitat for fish year round. The Russell's plan on building a pathway along the creek from the nearby covered bridge to the mill for visitors to view the 15-20 Salmon climbing the fish ladder every half hour in the fall.

The mill will also be a center for cultural celebration. The Russell's cleared out the old meat locker, a giant freezer built in 1931 to make room for the Gift Box packaging area and the Old Cheese Factory Building has become an Antique Store. A two-acre riverside area will be an area for weddings, concerts, parties and events. On the bottom level of the mill near the water holding area, a warm and rustic room with a long wooden table provides the perfect space for wine tasting, dinners and business meetings and retreats.

Hundreds of visitors tour the mill and take home the whole grain goodness in Butte Creek Mill's products often after trying them first at a local hotel such as Ashland Springs Hotel who uses the products. Rogue Valley Hospital chooses the whole grain goodness of the mill's baking products to serve patients. While the grain ground at the mill feeds the bodies of those who enjoy it's whole grain goodness, the mill herself brings to life history, ecology and the art of living to all who partake of her wonders. The water still flows endlessly into Butte Creek from her proud slightly weathered side and the hum of her stones and turbines timelessly echo through her warm hand sewn timbers.

Copyright 2006 Butte Creek Mill. No unauthorized duplication without written consent. Photos courtesy of Dasja Dolan.

 

 

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Butte Creek Mill
402 Royal Ave. N. Eagle Point, OR
(541) 826-3531
   

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