Thompson’s Mills State Heritage Site is located not far off of Interstate 5 south of Albany and near the small town of Shedd. It is an incredible piece of history that seems frozen in time, with a fully operational hydroelectric power plant, millworks, elevators, and much more. It had the distinction of being the oldest continuously-operated mill until it closed in 2004 and was sold to the state of Oregon. Because it was still operating when it was aquiredn, all of the equipment was left on the premises. This gives visitors a unique view into how these mills operated. The mill was originally built to grind local farmers’ grains into various flours, but when that market dried up the owners switched to creating animal feed and custom milling jobs.
We visited the mill during off-season and were treated to a personalized tour by the very knowledgable volunteer guide. He fired up much of the machinery and even opened the pond gate to turn the turbines.