On Saturday, May 30th, from 1 to 4 pm there will be a guided tour of the South Corvallis Mill Race, which once powered Fischer’s Flour Mill and a series of industrial enterprises on the banks of the Willamette River. To RSVP for the tour, please contact Heath Keirstead at Benton SWCD.
In the mid-1980s, just over 20 years after most of South Corvallis was annexed by the city, both the Mill Race and Crystal Lake Drive were realigned, prompting the discovery of a massive trichloroethylene (TCE) leakage at the Evanite (now Hollingsworth & Vose) battery separator plant. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has been working with Hollingsworth & Vose (H&V) to develop a rewp-content/uploadstion plan. A community working group has assembled to review the plan, and provide public comments (due to DEQ by June 1, 2015).
OSU Professor Emeritus Phil Sollins began research the Mill Race just over a year ago, originally because he wanted to better understand the flooding problems in South Corvallis. The history of the Mill Race, assembled by Phil with help from other community volunteers and staff at Benton County and City of Corvallis, has serendipitously helped to provide context for the TCE rewp-content/uploadstion planning. Phil, Bill Gellatly, Lee Sherman and Dave Eckert were key contributors to the Marys River History Project “The Shaping of a Watershed”, which culminated in a beautiful exhibit now on display outside the OSU History Department on the 3rd floor of Milam Hall.
All of the recent interest in the Mill Race has spurred a handful of stream clean-ups and investigations of fish fauna and water quality. Karen Hans, ODFW Fish Biologist, identified native sculpin, sticklebacks, and juvenile Northern pikeminnows during a recent clean-up event organized by Ocean Blue Project and Natural Opus. During a previous event, Natural Opus staff encountered fish later identified in photos as juvenile Spring Chinook, an ESA-listed species.
The Mill Race also plays a major role in South Corvallis flood events. Check out our evolving Mill Race webpage and join us on the tour to learn more!