Project Goal

Mill Race History

Water Quality Issues

Upcoming Changes

Long Term Vision


-Presentation at Springfield Schools

-Educational Posters

-Interpretive Site Posters

-Organizing Friends of the Mill Race

Clean-up Day

Useful Links

Contact Mill Race Team

Service Learning Program




The Mill Race flowing through an early wooden culvert.
Photo courtesy of the Springfield Museum


An Important Piece of Springfield History

For over 150 years, the Springfield Mill Race has been an important part of Springfield's History.

The Mill Race has been a valuable resource throughout the years, having been used for many purposes including water, power, recreation, irrigation, and flood & fire control.

The Mill Race flows from the Middle Fork of the Willamette River, through the south end of Springfield, and into the main stem of the Willamette River near Island Park.

One of Springfield's first mills.
Photo courtesy of the Springfield Museum

Did You Know?

  • The 3.5 mile long canal was hand excavated by Elias Briggs, the founder of Springfield. With his son Isaac’s help, he dug the canal in 1852, using an ox-plow and shovels in order to provide power for the first grist and saw mills in the area.

  • Throughout its history, the Mill Pond served as a popular place to gather for picnics, canoeing, fishing, and swimming. For a time, a diving board and changing room were erected at the corner of Mill and 28th.

  • Because the Mill Race connects the Willamette River and the Middle Fork of the Willamette, fishing was a very popular activity. Natural waterway or not, the salmon found the throughway of the Mill Race to their liking. It is said that salmon runs were so abundant at one point that a person could catch fish by spearing them from the bank!

  • Approximately 2/3 of the Mill Race, 76 acres of land, and the Mill Pond were a gift, given to the City of Springfield by Georgia Pacific in 1985.

The Mill Race near Gorrie Creek.



A Brief Timeline

1852 Elias Briggs began digging the Mill Race with his son.

The Briggs and Driggs company built Springfield’s first gristmill and sawmill, both powered by the water from the Mill Race.

1901 Electricity arrived in Springfield.

1902 Booth-Kelly built a lumber mill. Following this, they built a Mill Pond for easy storage and moving of logs to be cut into lumber.

1911 The Booth-Kelly Mill burned and was rebuilt.

1949 Weyerhaeuser opened their Springfield Mill.

1959 Georgia-Pacific bought out Booth-Kelly and acquired the lumber mill and the Mill Race.

Georgia-Pacific donated 2/3 of the Mill Race and the Mill Pond to the City of Springfield, including 76 acres of the old Booth Kelly mill property.

1993 A group of concerned citizens and local leaders developed a "Mill Race Concept" for restoring the Mill Race.

1995 Voters of Springfield approved a general obligation bond for improvements to the Mill Race system.

The City of Springfield requested that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers investigate the potential for habitat restoration.

2005 Restoration is scheduled to begin.