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Liam Hill (green shirt), second-grader at Stafford Primary School in West Linn, is surrounded by fascinated students at the recent Science Fair as he demonstrates his working model of Willamette Falls Locks. Liam and Dad took the liberty of reducing the number of lift chambers, but the flowing water and floating boat amply demonstrated how to use a water stairway like our locks at Willamette Falls.



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Willamette Falls Locks: National Treasure and an Oregon "Most Endangered Place":



CLOSED LOCKS CREATE A DIVIDED WILLAMETTE


The Corps of Engineers closed the Willamette Falls Navigation Canal and Locks in West Linn in November, 2011 because of a potential for needed repairs to the gudgeon arms and anchors on Gates 2, 3, and 4. An inspection to determine whether corrosion has compromised the arms and anchors will require a significant maintenance investment. The Corps has not identified any funds to carry out those (assumed to be needed) repairs.

River-users value the importance of maintaining the option of marine freight and recreation through our locks. An example of the financial benefit of being able to lock large cargoes around Willamette Falls was the passage this year of the Canby Ferry, down to Portland in January and back to Canby in July, which saved Clackamas County approximately $500,000. The One Willamette River Coalition seeks to identify a new owner for the canal and locks to ensure that the future economic and recreational potential of our 1873 locks is realized. The Coalition is currently fund-raising for an "Economic Benefits" study of the locks' impact on Oregon's Willamette Valley economy.

Whether you are a recreational boater, a marine business, a lover of heritage, or interested in river-based tourism, contact the One Willamette River Coalition, at 503-655-0649, if you'd like to contribute or be added to our mailing list. 




OREGON CITY MILL SILENT, STRIPPED, AND STILL AWAITING A BUYER
 

It is with great sadness that we witnessed the February 2011 closure of the Blue Heron paper company and the loss of so many well-paid jobs in Oregon City on this historic industrial site. (NOTE: Although many confuse the two mills at Willamette Falls, the closure of Blue Heron has nothing to do with the West Linn Paper Company mill in West Linn, which has different ownership and produces high-quality coated papers, rather than recycled products.) Blue Heron had kindly allowed us to operate in rent-free office space at the OC mill since 2006.
         
         As Oregon City and the region look at the now-silent mill complex and consider its future, we trust people will remember what the great floods are capable of doing to that site--a recurring situation that the mill has been able to adapt to, but that might not be as amenable to other, less sturdy uses.  In the not-too-distant past,  the Oregon City mill built its own temporary dam at the south end of Main Street (which runs through the property and ends near the boat basin spillway), to protect Oregon City's downtown from disastrous flooding. With several National Register-eligible historic resources on the Oregon City property, we hope to see a thoughtful long-term adaptive reuse of the site, incorporating some kind of new industry, increased public access to falls viewing, and on-site heritage interpretation.
           The rich history of the Oregon City mill site may be found by going to:
 http://www.blueheronpaper.com/about_hist.html.
          Here is a beautiful image of Blue Heron painted by Phil Juttelstad for our "Art Contemplates Industry: Hawley Powerhouse" exhibit in 2008.