• 48-inch or smaller 3-point hitch tiller
• Old barn boards
• Hay, leaves, manure, or anything organic to help build up our garden soil
"The diversity of projects and issues makes the Mill a very interesting place to work."
—Tom Parsons, Park Ranger
Spring 2014 Page
The blossoms on the Thompson’s Mills apple trees are amazing right now. They are dark pink and white and smell great. There are not a lot of blossoms on the 3 year old trees, grafted by Roy and Larry Thompson, but there are certainly more than last year. They may just be quietly sitting there, looking pretty and attracting bees, but to me they’re just one more piece of evidence of the continuing growth and progress at Thompson’s Mills.
In every month last year, except during the early winter construction, attendance was up with an overall increase of 20%. With volunteer Elaine Lutzeier taking on the new position of BMS Gift Store Manager, sales were up 228% from 2013. The Mill benefitted from more OPRD volunteers than ever before who put in a whopping 7181 hours of work here. The artifacts in the work shop are finally catalogued, photographed and tagged and are now being moved to a secure storage space so the shop can be fully utilized. A small army of Mill volunteers led by Tom Adams set up shelving in a climate controlled room we are “borrowing” at Luckiamute Landing State Natural Area in Albany for storage of our most precious archives. The exterior assessment is nearly wrapped up so we can prioritize the repairs needed on the outside of the Mill. We still have to assess the house and outbuildings and then we’ll do the interior of the Mill. We had concrete specialists from Chicago visit to begin formulating a plan to stabilize and repair the top edge of the silos and the unique concrete paneled catwalk on top of the silos. The inflatable dam and pump system work but there are kinks in the automation, plus it may have been hit by lightning so I have had to replace a lot of the electronics. We did a pre-summer impoundment fish removal again and had an excavator smooth the bottom of the mill race to make future fish removals easier. Thanks to a grant awarded to the BMS, we were visited by historic structure preservationist Harrison Goodall and preservation librarian Randy Silverman. They spent two days exploring the mill and the archives, resulting in reports giving us direction on preservation strategies and techniques. Two weddings are planned here in summer 2015 so we have been regularly meeting with the happy couples to prepare for their big days. Neighbor and former Mill employee Nate Kropf was hired to grind about 200 stumps in the orchard (thank you BMS!). A high school group came from Central Linn to plan a demonstration camas meadow in the north field of the Mill. We are working on a new solar powered river gauge to give us water level readings from the old Sodom Dam site so we can have a 7 hour heads up on what river flows to expect (thank you Al Lutzeier!). The west canopy between the Mill and the silos got a fresh roof, new gutters, new support posts, new flashing and is finally watertight and solid. Down in the basement, the rebuilding of the floor started as a pretty major project but unexpectedly became a really major project- we couldn’t even run the mill for over two months. Floorboards, supporting structures underneath the floor and several support posts were replaced or rebuilt. Preservation carpenters Cal and Kendra Lewis were the poor souls who toiled in the dark dank cold down there. And finally, perhaps the crowning glory of the last year, though this is debatable, was the orchard producing exactly one single beautiful little round red and yellowish apple. It is from one of the two heirloom “Winter Banana” trees and it is in my freezer if anyone wants to see it.
So far in 2015 our visitation is up by 44% so it looks like we’re off to another great year of growth and improvements. If you haven’t been to Thompson’s Mills lately, drop by and check out the basement, check out the new west canopy or check out the apple trees. Come remind yourself why you’re a fan of Oregon’s oldest water powered mill.
Kind regards to all,
Ranger Tom Parsons