Butte Creek Mill

Bob & Debbie, thank you very much for doing this interview with us today. Can you begin by giving us a little introduction to the Butte Creek Mill ?

The Butte Creek Mill was opened in 1872, just as the “Indian Wars” were winding down. It was situated on the Military Road that connected Jacksonville with Fort Klamath. The mill was built by John Daley, in partnership with Eber Emery of Ashland. It was considered to be the most modern flour mill in Oregon. it was the closest flour mill to Klamath so the settlers trekked over the mountains for their flour. Little Butte Creek  powered the mill  just as it does today. Visitors soon learn that the mill has changed very little in the last 140 years.

Bob, local history has always been of great interest to you. How has owning the Butte Creek Mill helped you deepen your own understanding and appreciation for its place in our community?

I’ve been an antique and history buff since the age of 9. When Debbie and I came down from Portland for our first visit, eight years ago this month, I immediately fell in love with the mill, in spite of the obvious differed maintenance issues. To think that this treasure still existed after all these years, blew me away. The mill was in danger of being torn down for apartments or who knows what else. Over a period of six months, we negotiated our purchase and the more I saw, the more I wanted to make it ours. I wanted this mill to be shared with not only the local community but the world. Where else can you see 1872 industrial technology at work? It became obvious to me that large flour mill conglomerates had literately changed the nation’s laws to allow massive adulteration of flour to increase their profits and reduce nutrition. We pride ourselves on making our flours the best that they can be.

I was amazed to learn that the original stones that grind the mill came all the way from France. Will you tell us some more about this story?

One thousand years ago, the Romans discovered a formation of volcanically melted quartz, in France. This stone is forty times harder than granite. Because of the stone’s hardness, they only have to be “dressed” every four years instead of every month, in the case of granite. It takes seven to 8 days to dress the stones so the time saved is tremendous. Our 1,600 lb stones were sent from France in a sailing ship, around the Horn, to Crescent City and over the Siskiyous, by horse drawn wagon, to Eagle Point. In 140 years, we’ve only used less than 1/2  inch of our stones.

Something you just have to experience first hand to believe is that when the mill is running, it really is very quite, but an awful amount of power is being churned through all those belts and grinding stones. Will you talk more about some of the mechanics and principles that power the mill?

When visitors arrive at the mill, they are surprised to learn that they can explore our lower area and see, first hand, the mill running. The water arrives into the mill from our millrace that starts 1/2 mile up the creek. The turbine is under 12 feet of water in our penstock. When we open up our floodgates, under the turbine, the pressure of 12 feet of water powers the turbine. Because we use the power of water to run our mill, they can see the belts and wheels turning. Our original turbine sits on our front porch. Our “new” turbine, from 1916, powers the mill like a pinwheel but instead of air turning the wheel, water does. Our water right is 24 cubic feet of water per second. There is almost no noise involved.

Debbie, will you talk a little bit about the opportunity for locals to come take a tour of the mill, and get to learn more about local history first hand?

When Bob and I bought the mill, we wanted to share it with our visitors. Besides our basic, on demand, tours, we take reservations from groups and organizations from around the world. We estimate that we accommodate over 40,000 visitors per year. Bob and our workers opened up the lower level with new floors and lighting as well as landscaped the 800 feet of river frontage to accommodate picnics and it is a great place to see salmon, river otters, turtles, birds and other wildlife. We do special events such as weddings, dinners, concerts, meetings, reunions, car clubs and all sorts of fundraiser’s. It is a unique opportunity to mix history with good old fashioned fun.
The general store is heated by a little pot belly stove and the smells that emanate when you first walk in are delightful.
Our general store has been serving the community for over 140 years. When you walk in, the first thing you feel is that you are stepping back in time, The store is filled with Bob’s lifetime collection of authentic country store memorabalia. The old counters and post office combined with original wooden floors take you back to a simpler time. Besides our stone ground products, the store sells well over 100 fresh spices by the ounce. The combination of the wonderful smell of spices with the wood fired pot belly stove is breathtaking. We pride ourselves in caring local products and wines. Our Netie’s vanilla syrup goes great with our stone ground pancake mixes.

Bob, will you talk about the community events you host at the mill?

Besides our usual smaller events, the mill hosts many other community events, all on Second Saturdays of the month. In May we have our Vintage Faire which kicks off the Summer. We’ll have Dutch oven cook-offs, Old Time Fiddlers, black smiths, antique tractors, Saturday market, wine tasting, Old West Re-enactors, trolley and wagon rides, alpaca’s, lot’s of sampling and crafts. Great family fun and no cost. August is the Annual Library fundraiser “Music at The Mill” barbeque and blue grass down by the old mill stream. We just finished Gobble Till You Wobble, in November, where our Dutch Oven group provided free Thanksgiving dinners all cooked in Dutch ovens. December 8th is Christmas music all day and on the 22nd we’ll have a bonfire with Christmas caroling at 6:00 PM.
Fresh ground flour is a treat all unto it self. Can you educate us about some of the benefits of having stone ground flour vs conventional methods of milling?
Fresh ground flour is almost a thing of the past except at the Butte Creek Mill. Our flours and mixes contain the finest, non GMO, grains available. We grind these grains on our original mill stones. The process is slow and cold. Big mills virtually heat the nutrition out of their flour and then remove the germ and the bran. You get a bleached white product that your body does not recognize as food. BCM products are fresh, have all the germ and the bran and you can taste the difference.
You also have award winning pancake and waffle mixes, bran muffins and corn bread mixes. Where can we pick these up locally if we did not come out to the mill?
Our products can be found all over the Valley as well as places like Dean and Deluca, in New York City. Our long time partners include Ashland Co Op, Rays, Grange Co Op, Medford Co Op, Sherms, Market of Choice, Shop N Kart, and many others.
On average you see between Forty to Fifty Thousand visitors per year. These travelers are coming from all around the world and one of the favorite gifts to take back or share with a friend has to be your custom gift boxes. Will you please tell us more about this?
The Butte Creek Mill gift boxes are a great way to send the gift of nutrition and value to friends and family. We have over 25 different gift boxes available at the mill . They start at $12.95. You can create your own custom gift box or basket at the mill or just go with our fun grab and go products that we create at the mill. This is THE place to find your stocking stuffers or hostess gifts. Mixes such as Cowboy
Any particular gift box you recommend?
Our most popular gift box is probably #1 Cornbread, Bran Muffin, Pancake, Bean Soup and Marion berry jam or # 12 cookies, including oatmeal/cranberries and dark chocolate chips and our Cowboy cookies, On the go bars and sugar cookies.
Can the gift boxes be ordered on your website and when is the cut off date for having boxes sent for the holidays?
Our gift boxes can be ordered on our website and depending on where they are shipped, we will do whatever it takes to get them there in a timely fashion. We ship same day or next day if they are ordered after 4 PM.
In addition to the historic mill and general store you guys also have a very nice antique shop. 
Yes, the antique store was part of the deal I made with Debbie to buy the mill. I told her I’d sell some of my treasures that I had collected. The Antique store is in the historic Ladino Cheese Factory building and is crammed full of interesting and fun antiques. I’ve had a passion for buying antiques for 50 years and still consider it one of my favorite pastimes. I specialize in real antiques and keep a large variety of primitives, glassware, toys, advertising, kitchen gadgets and neat stuff.
Bob, aside from the mill, I understand you are the mayor of Eagle Point as well as being active in the Chamber of Commerce. Can you tell us a little more about your community involvement?
Ever since we arrived in Eagle Point, I’ve been involved with community enrichment. After many years of involvement with the Chamber, I decided that the direction of the city is really determined by the Council. I thought mayor would be my best fit. I start my second term in January. It has been a pleasure being involved with our city and council and helping steer the future of Eagle Point.
Finally, I would like to thank you for doing this interview with us today. I can say as a personal testimonial that when my family came to visit we had a great time.
The mill truly is a historic treasure for our valley and community. My kids we thrilled to see the mill in action and my wife and I were excited to learn more about our unique local history. 
Come experience the last water powered mill , west of the Mississippi and pick up  some unique gifts for the holidays,We have a great community that many people in the valley are unaware of. Our Championship golf course, National Cemetery, Covered bridge, Harnish Wayside, museum,  Little Butte Creek, and of course, the Mill. We’ve adopted a community slogan “Positively Eagle Point”. We have great schools, a terrific police force, and beautiful parks. I would urge people to come see for yourself. After you’ve visited the mill, be sure to visit the fabulous Butcher Shop, Agate Ridge Winery, Kriselle Winery, and our other fine businesses and see for yourself.

Butte Creek Mill
402 Royal Ave. N.
Eagle Point, OR 97524

Take Interstate 5 (Exit No. 30) northward ten miles (toward Crater Lake) to Eagle Point via Oregon Highway 62. Turn right at the intersection of Highway 62 and Linn Road. Turn Right on Linn Road. Go to your first stop sign, which is Royal, and turn left. We are down 2-3
blocks on the right side.

Show More

Shields Bialasik

Hi, I am Shields. I am the creator or LocalsGuide. The mission or my company is to provide a positive media platform for my community which in turn makes it stronger and more resilient. I hope you will enjoy and feel inspired to start your own LocalsGuide in your town or community.

Related Articles

Back to top button