My dad found this "diamond in the rough" tourist spot and took us to visit the other day. Thompson's Mills is an Oregon State Heritage Site run by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. It only opened for tours in 2007 and is located several miles east of Shedd, Oregon.
The mill, originally called Boston Mills, used water from the Calapooia river to grind various grains and later, generate power. The mill, which was built before Oregon was even a state, had territorial water rights, giving them preference over the farmers. At one point, the farmers paid to have the mill electrified and paid the power bill during the summer so they could use the water for irrigation.
There were quite a number of interpretive displays. The girl's favorite was a miniature grinding wheel. It demonstrated the different states the grains go through and what they are used for. They also had a hands-on example of how the grains were moved through the mill via rotary screws, elevator belts, and gravity.
It never occured to me how many different products could come out of a mill like this. It ranged from rabbit pellets to pastry flour. There were recipe cards for each product, and chutes and valves were lined up to deliver the right ingredients to the correct areas.
Like Hull-Oakes Sawmill, various parts of the building were built at various times. In evidence were ax-hewn timber and rough-cut saw mill wood.
Here is a video which give an idea of what it would have been like in the mill while it was operating.
In all, we spent more than two hours there. It was a fascinating look at local history. We had a snack at the country store in Shedd before heading home.