Spinning Wheel

I’ve written here several times previously about Thompson’s Mills, Oregon’s oldest water-powered flouring mill—I’m volunteering my time there as a photographer, a tiny part of the ongoing work being done by the State of Oregon to accurately restore the mill as a State Heritage Site.

Over the past year I’ve made two dozen trips up the Willamette Valley to collect pieces of the Mill’s visual puzzle—last Friday I found a few more.

Water power is the story here—without it this patch of ground along the Calapooia River would likely be a farm field, or else overgrown with brush. Water diverted from the river into a millrace flowed through gates, spinning turbines to power milling machinery, before exiting back into the river.

In the picture above (viewed from the basement) you see water entering from the millrace and a blurred pulley wheel, part of the apparatus powering equipment on the ground floor.

The second photo was taken from the walkway above the head gates and shows water that’s passed through and is returning to the river. History is about motion, and few places depict that as effectively as Thompson’s Mills.


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