Peel back a layer of time and learn something new about Oregon’s early industry by visiting the Thompson's Mills State Heritage Site.
Originally built in 1858 as Boston Mills, the mill supplied new farming communities in the Willamette Valley area with flour. Richard Finley was the man behind the project, and he quickly gain as customers farmers eager for an alternative to hauling their wheat to Albany. When the mill burned down in 1862, Finley rebuilt and was back in business in no time thanks to the high demand for the mill’s services.
Boston Mills was located at the time in the town of Boston, Oregon, which dissolved in 1871 when the railroad era arrived, drawing people 1.5 miles away to Shedd’s Station. Instead of shutting down the mill, (now owned by Martin Thompson) proximity to the railway meant Thompson’s Flouring Mill was shipping goods as far as China by the turn of the century.
But by the mid 1940’s the industrialization of food caused the mill the turn from flour to animal feed to stay in operation. The mill installed a generator and briefly sold waterpower from 1986 to 2004. Operation finally ceased in 2004, and in 2007 the mill was established as a state heritage site.
Today you can explore the mill and learn about the people who worked the mill, the machines, and the mill's long history. There are free daily guided tours that run 10 a.m., 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. Visitors can also wander the first floor on their own at any time, and learn from interpretive displays are located throughout the mill and on the grounds.
If you have little ones, be sure to say hello to the turkeys, chickens, and ducks that live on the grounds. Fishing is permitted at the mill, and painters are known to set up easels on the lawn. But most visitors just pause for a picnic by the Calapooia River, the Thompson's Mills at their backs, and enjoy the timeless beauty of the Oregon outdoors.
The mill and grounds are open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, except on major holidays. Visits and tours are free and ADA compliant.