Rambling Rodericks travel blog

Mt. McLaughlin as we travel the road to Butte Falls

Mt. McLaughlin from Willow Lake

Pelican and heron on Willow Lake

The Mill

Dated stone at the mill entrance

An antique grocery counter, similar to one we had at Ponderosa Park...

The rod which turns the mill stones on the next floor above

The rod going down through the water in the pin-stock into the...

Excess water leaving at the far end of the building: pin-stock water...

Just one of the antique memorabilia on display

Today we had decided to go see the antique, but still in use, flour mill at the small town of Eagle Point, a suburb of Medford. As we drove from Shady Cove, we came to a road sign we had seen for Butte Falls. Knowing that the flour mill was on Butte Creek, we decided to go see the "falls". Well, Butte Falls may have had a waterfall somewhere, but Butte Falls is not a falls, but a very small town. Upon arrival, we drove around the town and then continued on the same road we had used to get there. Ultimately we ended up at Willow Lake, a medium sized fishing lake. White pelicans use this area as a fly over, and we were fortunate to see several on the water. Also, across the lake we got some nice photos of Mt. McLaughlin.

Mt. McLaughlin is a conical volcano which can be seen from Klamath Falls in the east of the state, from Crater Lake north east of Medford, from Ashland and Medford and from Eagle Point area along the road we have driven to and from Shady Cove.

It is another beautiful volcano, similar to Shasta, Lassen, St. Helens, Rainier, Hood, Baker and Olympia....all volcanos in a chain from northern CA to northern WA. On the western face of this mountain, as the snow melts in the glacial-like valleys, a figure of an eagle or angel begins to appear. Native American legend has it that when the flying eagle appears (or angel according to prospectors), the salmon will become plentiful in the rivers for fishing, and the lake fish will be ready for catching. In just the short time we have been in Shady Cove, the angel/flying eagle has become more and more clear on the mountainside. And yes, the fish in the river seem to be more plentiful than when we first arrived.

After leaving Willow Lake, the road we were on ended at a mountain highway, 140, which goes to Klamath Falls, east, and Medford, west. We drove toward Klamath Falls, actually toward Fish Lake and Lake of the Woods in the Mountain Lakes Wilderness near Klamath Lake. We turned around at Fish Lake and headed west toward Eagle Point to visit the Butte Creek Flour Mill.

It turns out that the Butte Creek, on which the mill was located, was a different fork of the Butte, not the one we originally headed up in the morning. The mill began operation in 1872 and has been in continuous use since then. The mill stones were quarried in France, sailed around the Horn to Crescent City and carried over the mountains to the mill. The creek was partially diverted into a millrace (channel) where the water was sent into the lowest story of the mill. The water then dropped 12 to 14 feet through a pin-stock to a turbine where the falling water turned the rod for the mill stones. Un-needed water, before the turbine, leaves the building like a small water fall, while the water which goes down the pin-stock to the turbine leaves the building in a little ditch. Both flows of water go back into the creek, so no water is lost or wasted in the process.

Not only was the mill building a working flour mill, but it also housed the post office, a small general store and a meat locker run on highly dangerous motors filled with ammonia. Flour mills themselves are dangerous places as the flour dust is highly flammable. The gears for the mill are made of wood rather than metal so that no sparks will happen which can ignite the flour dust.

Come Christmas, I might purchase some of the Butte Creek Mill products for 2014 gifts (in keeping with my plan to buy gifts related to our travels). But until then.....in the meantime.....the Rodericks will ramble on.

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