Community Link Archive

Email us   Archive

October 7, 2016

Monte Mendenhall, Pacific Power Regional Business Manager

Rebuilding the Butte Creek Mill, stroke by stroke

By Monte Mendenhall
Regional Business Manager

For more than 140 years, the Butte Creek Mill in Eagle Point harnessed water power to grind the grain of southern Oregon farmers. For decades, it was the focal point of the community with wagons lined up for miles during harvest time as farmers waited their turn to let the old stones that came around Cape Horn turn their wheat into marketable grain.

Butte Creek Mill before the fireImage courtesy Butte Creek Mill

When technology and trade moved on, the mill remained an icon in the valley, a rustic, but strong, connection to a pioneer past. It stood the test of time and eventually became the only water-powered grist mill still operating west of the Mississippi.

All that changed in a few tragic hours on Christmas Day 2015. A catastrophic fire swept through the place, destroying nearly everything. Except the stones.

Was there ever any doubt the community would bind together and rebuild? Not in my mind. It will be a massive effort, worthy of the pioneers who first settled here. But it is happening.

Bob Russell owned the place before the fire and operated a museum and gift shop atop the working mill. The plan is for Bob, who also serves as Eagle Point’s mayor, to establish a nonprofit that will restore the historic heart of the community.

Golf tournament

On Sept. 22, Pacific Power was proud to sponsor a golf tournament to raise money for rebuilding. There were 25 teams that participated from local businesses and community minded individuals. The putts and the drives, frankly, were not great. But the drive that matters, raising money for the rebuilding, was straight and powerful. Bob Hyer was extremely generous by donating use of the Eagle Point Golf Course for the event.

We netted over $21,000 for the rebuild. A major boost came in May when actor/musician Jim Belushi, who has local ties, headlined a charity concert, raising over $80,000.

The plan is use the donations as seed money to garner a major grant to reach the estimated $2.5 million needed to rebuild the mill. We will get there.

This is truly a community project, encompassing the entire Rogue Valley. There have been fundraising dinners and many other activities to rebuild the mill. We are committed to another golf tournament next year and we will push to make it even more successful.

Stroke by stroke, we will get it done.

At Pacific Power, we're proud to be a part of the communities we serve and we’re committed to keeping them vibrant, strong and safe places to live and work. Community Link shares interesting news and stories from communities around the Northwest. Connect with us through social media or by email.