10 February 2008

[meme] ZehnKatzen's Weekly Winners #6: Some Pictures Of Mission Mill

1352. For another in our occasional series in the grand madness that is Sarcastic Mom's Weekly Winners, we have some more Oregon history for you.

The Mission Mill Museum in Salem. To those in the know, it's a place to visit that documents some of the loci of the history of modern Oregon, which only started about 200 years ago (Oregon, historically speaking, from the viewpoint of Western and Anglocentric civilization – as a modern State of the Union – is excruciatingly young. Even compared to the East Coast, we're still in diapers).

The museum, located just east of downtown Salem along 12th St, SE, near Willamette University and the State Capitol group, is a small campus of buildings, some of which were always there, and some which were moved in. The Jason Lee house, the oldest frame house still standing in Oregon, is one which was moved in:

The house is made of four smaller apartments within, occupied by Lee and by American Methodist pioneers, some of whose names (such as Judson) are worn by Salem landmarks today.

This house, the Boon house, was occupied by its namesake, who was a very active joiner in territorial and early State government – so much so that he was Oregon's first treasurer. This house was a surprise. It was bigger inside than out. It also was not originally here, but occupied a point about a mile away (locals would recognize that spot as where Broadway, Liberty, and High Streets come together – near present-day McMenamin's Boon's Treasury Tavern.

The houses were designated by small plaques, as here:


The interiors are lovingly cared for and recreated. Actual artefacts are used whenever possible, a lot of which were acquired from donations of the descendents of the people who lived here.

When such things are not available, historically accurate substitutions and replicas were used. Articles "from period" of course were preferred. Not everything that belonged to the early Methodists survives, of course.

This view, in the Lee house of an upstairs apartment, does indeed contain a lot of authentic tools and writing materials, the majority of which were probably owned by the occupant. That pile of metal objects is an actual period surveyor's chain, for instance.

The museum is as much a showcase of early Salem commercial history as it is of Oregon history. For a great long time, until 1962, the Thomas Kay Woolen Mill operated in Salem, providing jobs and an name for Salem as a source of fine woolen products. The company's legacy lives on today in the world-famous Pendleton Co.

The mill and factor itself are in beautiful condition:

Though the above has a certain "Willy Wonka" vibe about it somehow.

Salem may not be as blessed as Portland with the Bull Run water, but it's got something almost as good; North Santiam water, tapped of the stream at Stayton, a town about 15 miles away. There, via a canal, water is diverted into Mill Creek which meanders into Salem from the southeast and is futher tapped by an old fashioned mill race which runs through town and into the mill:


Like much of Oregon's Cascade Mountain water, it's esteemably soft, making it perfect in the production of world-famous woolens. And it makes for very quaint mill photos, too.

That's all the time I have for now. Must run! Up against the clock...

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