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Mon Nov 17, 2014, 01:41 AM

The Old Mill and Willamette Falls

Last edited Tue Nov 18, 2014, 07:07 PM - Edit history (1)

I said I was going to post some photos of the Blue Heron Mill/Willamette Falls site after I went on a tour there last week, but the process of editing them down (I took 238 photos, whittled them down to 100) and post processing (interiors were really dark with glare from windows, I had to adjust shadow/highlight and contrast on some of them) turned out to be quite time consuming. Then on Monday I felt a cold coming on and sure enough it hit, felt too poorly to sit at the computer very much, so I spent most of the past four days bundled up on the couch, drink hot spiced apple cider and eating chicken noodle soup (with lots of ginger!) But I feel better now so I can get back to posting!

I don't know where to start so why not at the beginning?

This is where we started and then turned left into the main former mill building. This is pretty much all the public could see of the mill at street level. This used to be part of Main St. in downtown Oregon City; John McLaughlin (founder of Oregon City and the "Father of Oregon"'s house was located here. The mill, then known as Publisher's Paper Company, gradually bought up all the land and eventually this part of Main St. was closed to public access.But the plan is to reopen it and make the whole area part of downtown again.
As you can see, it was a foggy and chilly morning.



Inside...


The hole in the floor is where the milling machinery was, it's been removed. Below is the basement, very dark, damp, and musty!




We went through the building and out onto a platform where we caught a glimpse of the falls. The building on the right is a PGE hydroelectric plant, still generating power. There are fish ladders and behind it, the oldest multi-gate locks for ships in the U.S., now so rusted and decrepit they've been closed permanently.



These are remains of an old loading dock, it's going to be made into an observation platform. The bridge connects Oregon City with West Linn.



Looking across the river at the PGE plant and the West Linn Paper Company, which still operates. It produces glossy paper for magazines, catalogs, etc. The Blue Heron Mill produced newsprint (when it was Publisher's it was owned by the Times-Mirror Company).
If you see the horizontal line on the edge of the building at the extreme far left, that marks the high water point for the 1996 flood. Since this part of the mill is in the flood zone, re-using the buildings here presents problems.



This structure fascinated me...






Back inside, up on the second floor...



An office, unused since 2010.



Back outside, remains of the Woolen Mills, one of the first mills built here and torn down early last century. The foundations remain and will stay, they're thinking of a courtyard or open air market here.





A stream ran through here from under the arch but it's been blocked for who knows how long. It will be cleared out and restored to flow freely again.



We entered another building to go downstairs underneath the buildings themselves. Because the basalt bedrock is sloped, the buildings were built on stilts to make them level.



We didn't get to back there. Didn't really want to!



Water runs down here, too. The runoff is captured and processed to remove pollutants before it reaches the river. The rusted metal siding on most of the buildings releases copper and zinc into the water, which is harmful to the fish. A lot of these buildings will eventually be removed.



A few impressions...























Leaving the main mill site, we walk on the trail to the falls...old controls for the original dam and hydro plant.



Remnants and turbines from the old dam. The site of the first long distance transmission of electricity, in 1889.





Looking back at the mill





Finally we reach the Willamette Falls - the highlight of the tour! This viewpoint has been closed to public access for over a hundred years. They're looking to have the Riverwalk open in about seven years buut the entire project may take ten years or more.











These pictures don't have sound or movement! To remedy that, I shot a minute long video, to give perhaps a better impression...

http://vid128.photobucket.com/albums/p195/baronius/willamette%20falls%20legacy/willamettefalls_zpscfxy5ldw.mp4

If you want to see all 100 photos I posted you can see them here...

http://sowewent.blogspot.com/2014/11/the-blue-heron-mill-site-and-willamette.html






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Arrow 10 replies Author Time Post
Reply The Old Mill and Willamette Falls (Original post)
Tom Kitten Nov 2014 OP
CaliforniaPeggy Nov 2014 #1
Tom Kitten Nov 2014 #3
Adsos Letter Nov 2014 #2
Tom Kitten Nov 2014 #4
liberal N proud Nov 2014 #5
cntrygrl Nov 2014 #6
Crewleader Nov 2014 #7
NV Whino Nov 2014 #8
NancyDL Nov 2014 #9
99th_Monkey Nov 2014 #10

Response to Tom Kitten (Original post)

Mon Nov 17, 2014, 02:03 AM

1. Wow, my dear Tom Kitten!

I am overwhelmed, stunned, and can hardly believe my eyes!

These comprise a wealth of photos.

You have assembled a treasure for us to see!

I think it will be at least 10 years to see the whole project come to fruition. Amazing place.

And I loved your video...it really captures the power of the river and the beauty too.

Thank you.

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Response to CaliforniaPeggy (Reply #1)

Mon Nov 17, 2014, 02:28 AM

3. thank you Peggy!

It took more time to write this post than the tour lasted! But I always remember your advice - "Preview is your friend!"

There's beauty in the decay, especially the old turbines. But when it gets done it will look a lot better. But yeah, it's a monumental project.

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Response to Tom Kitten (Original post)

Mon Nov 17, 2014, 02:15 AM

2. Nice!

You had a productive trip. So much to enjoy about all of them. #7, and the last five shots are my favorites all around, but there are interesting attributes to each of them.

Glad you're feeling better!

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Response to Adsos Letter (Reply #2)

Mon Nov 17, 2014, 02:56 AM

4. I'm glad too!

I guess the best time to catch a cold is when it's cold outside! And winter doesn't officially start for another month. I did watch of old classic movies, though.

I'm glad you like the photos. We were always moving, the guide (she was great btw) telling us all these things - a lot of these shots were rushed. I feel like a lot of them are more to convey information, sort of a photo essay about the place than "being artistic", but I tried to get a few of those in too. But I love to take photos of abandoned sites...when I was in SF I spent a whole day at Alcatraz and another whole day at the Sutro Baths, taking hundreds of pix. I'm glad I'm getting a new camera. Haven't got it yet but soon!

There's an arts council that arranges days for artists and photographers to spend hopefully more time at the site. I'll definitely look into that when I get back from California early next year!

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Response to Tom Kitten (Original post)

Mon Nov 17, 2014, 07:47 AM

5. The ghosts of American Manufacturing

Last summer I had to go to a factory our company closed last year. My mission was to do 360 panoramic photography for marketing the place for sale.

It was the place where I started my career and it was both heartbreaking, and eerie to walk through the building once filled with equipment now completely void, just walls, the rest sold for scrap.

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Response to Tom Kitten (Original post)

Mon Nov 17, 2014, 09:26 AM

6. Thank you so much for taking

the time to snap these and all the work involved in presenting them to us. I look at them and I'm mesmerized. The pictures are so mystical in a way.

I've never heard of this place but intend on searching it. Such history there.

Again, thank you Tom Kitten.

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Response to Tom Kitten (Original post)

Mon Nov 17, 2014, 09:40 AM

7. Terrific Tom

Great photos friend!

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Response to Tom Kitten (Original post)

Mon Nov 17, 2014, 12:01 PM

8. Thanks for taking us on the tour

I can see why you took so many photos. It is a wealth of possibilities. Love the turbines and the round tank.

I glad to see places like this being reclaimed. And made into public spaces.

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Response to Tom Kitten (Original post)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 05:08 AM

9. I'm awestruck -

by the pictures. by the project, by the area itself. Thank you for posting these.

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Response to Tom Kitten (Original post)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 03:42 PM

10. Wow, what an amazing set of photos.

 

Now I'm going to have to take a day trip from NE pdx where I live to go see this for myself soon. I have been intending too also visit an old tavern that used to be on the Highway along the Eastern shore of the Willamette. When I was just a little tyke my parents had friends who owned the tavern and we would visit there and stay for days. You could see the falls from the tavern, which I'm not even sure if it's still even there or not.

Thanks Tom for inspiring me to revisit a piece of my past nearby.

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