Mill Creek and the Mill Race - Salem, Oregon
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member ddtfamily
N 44° 56.089 W 123° 01.581
10T E 497920 N 4975709
History Marker / You are Here map at Thomas Kay Woolen Mill
Waymark Code: WMH3MN
Location: Oregon, United States
Date Posted: 05/16/2013
Published By:Groundspeak Premium Member silverquill
Views: 3

This Historical Marker & "You Are Here" map is located along Mill Creek within the Mission Mill Museum complex. The sign includes historical information describing Mill Creek, the Mill Race and the use of water power at the Thomas Kay Woolen Mill, a Victorian era factory complex is unique in the Pacific Northwest as the best preserved example of an English/Eastern seaboard style woolen mill. The marker reads:

Mill Creek and the Millrace

The Willamette Valley is laced with creeks and rivers which were a major factor in its settlement and development, providing water for power, transportation and irrigation. Later, artificial waterways were created to supplement the natural ones. The water that powered the turbine at the Thomas Kay Woolen Mill travels a manmade canal, dug in 1857, from the North Santiam River in Stayton to Mill Creek, a distance of 19 miles. This canal is fondly called the Salem Ditch. Water diverted to the Salem Ditch from the River supplemented Mill Creek when the Willamette Woolen Manufacturing Company Started.

Water from Mill Creek is diverted into our millrace by Waller Dam at 19th and Ferry Streets in Salem. At this point, Mill Creek divides into the millrace and North Mill Creek. In addition to the Thomas Kay Woolen Mill, this millrace supplied water to other city industries, including the Salem Water Company, the Paulus Brothers Cannery, the Salem Flouring Mill, and Boise Cascade. Today, paths and parks parallel much of the waterway.


"It was my lot to be detailed to the work of making the ditch which was well ny completed in one summer."
-W.H. Rector, 1857

  • Downtown Turner along Mill Creek.
  • The Willamette Woolen Manufacturing Company's mill in 1857.
  • The Old McKinny Flouring Mill at South Commercial and Mill Streets, 1898.

Click a photo to enlarge

Historic Topic: Pioneer

Group Responsible for placement: Historical Society

Marker Type: City

Region: Willamette Valley

County: Marion

State of Oregon Historical Marker "Beaver Board": Not listed

Web link to additional information: Not listed

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