Thompson's Mills State Heritage Site

Park History

In May 2004, OPRD purchased the property from the last private owner for $856,547 and paid an additional $15,000 for artifacts and historic equipment associated with the mill.  After 3 years of safety and structural upgrades Thompson's Mills State Heritage Site opened to the public.

Work continues every day at the Mill- from minor repairs to major rehab or waterworks projects.  An adjustable dam was installed in 2013 allowing the Mill to have a full mill race and demonstrate milling year round while also allowing for fish passage and drainage after winter rains.  The removal of Sodom Dam, the removal of Shearer Dam and finally the construction of the adjustable dam allow the Calapooia River to be free-flowing yet the function and appearance at Thompson's Mills is preserved for you to experience.

Acreage: 89.85

Thompson's Mills State Heritage Site FAQ


When are you open to the public?

The grounds are open from 9am until 4pm every day of the year except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Day.  See below for Mill tour schedule...

Does the mill still work?

Yes! The mill still works but we don't actually produce a product.  For demonstrations we run the machinery so you can hear, see and feel some of what the mill employees experienced from 1858 until 2004.  The mill runs on both water and electric power and we demonstrate its operation both ways on most guided tours.  Seeing the water rush into the flume to run the turbines and hearing the clanging and hammering of the machinery are unforgettable experiences.

Can I bring a group or have a picnic or event there?

Yes, but we ask that you give us a call to let us know what you have in mind.  We have a very small staff and due to the fragile nature of the property we'll have a few understandable limits and requests to make sure both you and the Mill have a safe event. Many groups come for picnics and reunions.  Call 541-491-3611 for more information. If we're out working leave a message for us and we'll call you back.

Do you give tours for school groups?

Yes. Our tour is an interactive six-station tour with some indoor and some outdoor activities and seems to be best suited for 4th graders but we've had 2nd through 5th graders here. We can customize the content to some degree so let us know what you'd like us to focus on. We can accommodate up to about 60 students plus chapperones per tour.  We have a very limited staff though, so you will need to reserve a spot in advance. Give us a call so we can schedule a fun, exciting and memorable trip here for your students. 

When can I take a tour?

Free guided tours are offered any time we're open.  Tours can last about an hour, but if you don't have that much time just let us know. You could also do a self guided tour  if you prefer. We are closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year's Day. If you have a group of more than 10 please call in advance so we can have adequate staffing.

What's Allowed

May I take photos inside?

Yes.  The rich and varied textures inside the mill are a photographers dream and the patina of 150 years of hard work draws many photographers.  Flash photography and tripods are ok but a reminder to not obstruct the passage of other visitors and to pay attention to the safety barriers and ropes.

May I set up an easel for painting?

Yes. We often have artists set up at various places on the grounds capturing their view of the mill on a canvas.  We have no restrictions for artists wishing to paint pictures of the mill other than the usual restrictions that apply to everyone regarding access to dangerous areas.  If you have a question about access to an off-limits area feel free to call or find a staff member on site to help you.

Can I go fishing at the mill?

Yes.  Both the mill race (in front of the mill) and the tail race and Calapooia River (behind the mill) are open to fishing.  All ODFW rules and regulations apply.  You should be aware though- in early summer every year we drain the mill race (in front of the mill) and remove all fish to be sure that no salmon who need to migrate downstream are impounded in the mill race over the summer.  There are a few small fish and minnows who escape our nets every year but generally you won't be able to catch much. The banks of the mill race are a good place to practice fly casting.



Statewide FAQ

Available via this link