In partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and many local organizations including Willamalane Park & Recreation District and Springfield Utility Board, the City has recently restored and enhanced approximately three miles of the Springfield Mill Race. The work included creating a stable inlet from the Middle Fork Willamette River, removal of the Mill Dam, restoration of the channel, creation of wetland and backwater sloughs through the Mill Pond area, and riparian restoration.
The importance of the Springfield Mill Race is both historic and contemporary.
1852: Elias Briggs, the founder of Springfield hand-dug connections to existing sloughs to create the Mill Race.
1853: A saw mill was built on the Mill Race.
1854: Springfield's first gristmill began operation and thrived until it burned down in 1930.
1901: The Booth-Kelly Lumber Company purchased the saw mill, the entire Mill Race, and the accompanying water rights.
1911: Booth-Kelly built and leased a steam plant to the Oregon Power Company. Later that year, the entire site was destroyed by fire. The only thing spared was the new steam plant.
1915: A new, electric mill was constructed.
1958: Booth-Kelly sold the lumber mill and Mill Race to Georgia-Pacific.
1964: A large portion of the Springfield mill was closed. Several of the mill buildings were converted to a retail and commercial center.
1985: Georgia-Pacific donated most of the Mill Race, the mill pond and the old Booth-Kelly lumber
mill site to the City of Springfield.
2009: The Springfield Mill Race Restoration Project got underway in order to create a stable inlet from the Willamette River, improve habitat conditions for wildlife, including salmon, and provide recreational opportunities.
Springfield Mill Race Blog
Willamalane's Clearwater Park