National Register of Historic Places:   Snowy Butte Flour Mill

We were placed on the National Register of Historic Places on September 1, 1976. If you’re interested, checkout our Original Inventory and the photos we shared to make the list. 

For your convenience, you can read history of the structure and statement of significance here:

History of the Structure

The Butte Creek Mill is located in Eagle Point, Oregon. First settled in 1851, the town was abandoned the next year due to Indian conflicts. In 1872, a post office was established, along with a hotel, several blacksmith shops, a general store, a merchandize store, and a warehouse. In July of 1872, construction began on the mill. The building was situated on a fairly steep bank on the west side of the creek. There was an old irrigation ditch already on the site that was dug deeper by horse and hand labor.

The original mill was a four-story structure with a daylight basement, the main floor with the grinding floor and shop area, and two upper floors which were probably used for storage. To the north of the mill building were four square storage bins for grain.

As it stands, the main structure is essentially in original condition with only a few minor changes. The basement has a 20″ mortared stone retaining wall along the west (street) side, with short wing walls on each side. The structural frame is of 12″ to 14″ square hand hewn posts and beams, with an elaborate system of 4″ x 4″ knee and x-bracing, the joinery is mortice and tenon (and lapped), held together with oak pegs.

The grain was brought down from the second floor through chutes (after it had been scalped and scoured) and was run through the stones. The flour was then sacked. The two interior columns on the first floor have been very carefully hewn and detailed with a chamfer. There is a shed roof in front supported by steel rods to cover the loading dock.

The second floor originally provided storage for the cleaned grain before it was ground, and storage for tools and other equipment. The two interior columns on this floor are also chamfered.

The attic houses the top pulley of the belt and cup system that lifts the grain to the storage bins. The 2″ x 6″ rough sawn rafters (24″ O.C.) are supported near mid-span by 8″ x 8″ braces, at right angles to the roof pitch. These braces support an 8″ x 8″ horizontal girt and rest on the floor girders. There is a small steep ladder from the attic to the roof.

In 1912, an addition was built on the south side to provide for additional storage space and a loading dock area. On the first floor, columns with chamfering similar to the original second floor are used. The roof is extended at the same pitch. The framing uses 2″ x 8″ studs and 2″ x 6″ rafters. The siding is about the same size, but is cut with a circular saw rather than whip-sawn as on the original section of the mill. Large posts are used in the basement, but the joints are nailed rather than pegged.

Another addition was added to the north during the 1930s for frozen food lockers and a meat cutting and packing area. Construction in this section is similar to the earlier addition. Both the 1912 and 1930s additions are compatible with the original building character using similar type materials and detailing. They provide necessary added space for the mill, but also maintain the original architectural integrity.

The structure is in excellent condition except for a small amount of foundation damage and dry rot. The present owner is systematically repairing the damaged areas as needed.

Statement of Significance:

Butte Creek Mill is one of two remaining water-powered mills in Oregon, and is the only mill that grinds flour (Thompson’s Mill in Shedd is water-powered, but only grinds animal feeds). The water rights for the mill and the French burr grinding stones date back to 1872. The operation of the mill, the machinery and equipment are essentially the same as in the late 1800s.

In 1872, Adronirum John Daley chose a site on the west bank of Little Butte Creek, approximately 20 miles northeast of Jacksonville and 11 miles northeast of Medford. His father, John W. Daley, Sr. and Eber Emery began construction in July, 1872. The French burr stones and milling equipment were shipped around the horn to Crescent City, California, and brought overland to Little Butte Creek, (An interesting story, that has never been substantiated, surrounds the shipment of the burr stones. Daley supposedly sent his two sons to bring the stones to Eagle Point from Crescent City by wagon. On the return trip, one of the sons was killed in an Indian attack.)

The lumber for the mill was milled from a pine stand located at Butte Falls. The first flour was ground in August, 1873. In the latter part of the 1880s, the mill stones were replaced with roller machinery. A.J. Daley was miller until 1893, when he sold the mill to the Holmes Brothers of Eagle Point.

The Holmes Brothers sold out to the Brandon Brothers in 1916, who operated it until 1920 when they went out of business and Henry Campbell (an Eagle Point banker) acquired the mill. The mill stood idle until 1932, when George Putman purchased the mill and water rights from Campbell’s widow. George and his son, Ed, built a smaller addition to the north end and opened a feed store and cold storage plant in the building. Later, George found and repaired the old grinding stones and put them back into operation. George and Ed passed away and George’s other son, Frank, took over the mill. Frank operated the mill with great success selling flour to many bakeries in the Willamette Valley. In 1973, Frank sold the mill to Peter Crandell and in 2005, Peter Crandell sold the mill to Bob & Debbie Russell, who presently own and operate the mill.