Thompson’s Grist Mill and Other Treasures in Brownsville

May 2, 2006

The May 2, 2006 ByWays By Bus trip went to the country on Lane and Linn County back roads. The first stop at the Shedd museum, was a step back in rural Willamette Valley history. The little museum is located in an old bank building and beautifully displays Shedd and other local family items. Doreen Eagy, Ross Sprenger and Bob McCormick, long time residents, were our expert guides.

A special treat was to visit the local Methodist church, built in 1873. Ross Sprenger, who has been a church member since he was three months old, welcomed us and rang the old church bell.

Our next stop was the Thompson mill, built in 1858 as the Boston mill. The historic site has been purchased by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, and should be open to the public in 2007. The Thompson mill gives people a view of how early Willamette Valley agriculture developed. It is a water-powered mill that produced flour until several decades ago, when it changed to producing livestock feed. Doug Crispin, the Park ranger in charge of the mill, led the tour with the assistance of Martin Thompson, grandson of Martin Thompson, who bought the mill in 1897.

Lunch was at the Corner Cafe, located in the oldest commercial building in Brownsville. Guides from the Brownsville museum took us on a historical tour of the town. You could almost imagine a horse-drawn carriage traveling around town.

The Linn County Historical Museum in Brownsville and the elegant Moyer house, built in 1881, were our last stops. History from 1850 abounds.

For Rosemary Etter and Norma Lockyear, former Linn County residents, our trip was nostalgic. Norma had gone to the Shedd Methodist church as a child, and swam in the waterway by the Thompson mill. Everyone in Linn County knew Rosemary. We returned to Eugene on the old territorial road (Gap Road).

Members: Ewart Baldwin, Barbara Beard, Paul Beard, Paula Beard, Louise Behnke, Mary Lee Cheadle, Barbara Chinn, Kent Christoferson, Sharon Cutsforth, Jim Duncan, Sharon Duncan, Rosemary Etter, Rachele Fiszman, Bette Hack, Dora Harris, Ben Jeffries, Pat Jeffries, Ray Jensen (coleader), Rosella Jones, Norma Lockyear, John McManigal, Lenore McManigal, Natalie Newlove, Joyce Norman, Barbara Payne, Don Payne, Liz Reanier, Edna Robertson, Pauline Sievers, Julia Snell, Janet Speelman, Richard Speelman, Mary Ellen West (leader) and Vera Wooley. Nonmembers: Jean Blankenship, Bob Hart and Pat Peterson.

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