Old Millrace Leaves Traces in Lithia Park

Feb 25, 2014

 In Ashland’s Lithia Park, a ditch leaves Ashland Creek just above the playground and runs straight to the hill above the Lower Duck Pond.  A crude dirt path parallels the ditch, which is now partly buried by erosion, leaves, and pine needles.  But the ditch was once a millrace, flowing with water that entered a wooden flume and turned the grindstone at the Ashland Flouring Mill.  

 Abel Helman and Eber Emery established the mill in 1854, when Ashland Creek was known as “Rock Creek.”  They dug the millrace so that it led to the second floor of the flour mill, which once stood on the plaza at the entrance to today’s Lithia Park.  In the 1850s and 1860s, the flour mill flourished with business from the Rogue Valley’s growing population.  But by the turn of the century, the business was abandoned. Community volunteers cleaned up and landscaped the site of the flour mill after it was torn down and burned in 1909.  The Lower Duck Pond and waterfall were built in 1910.   Visitors can still see the Helman and Emery millrace ditch by climbing the backstairs from the Lower Duck Pond to the Shakespeare Festival. 

  Sources: "Historic Discovery Drives: Your Guide to Jackson County's Past." Web. 17 Jan. 2014.  "Lithia Park." National Park Service: U.S. Department of the Interior. Web. 17 Jan. 2014.  Marschner, Janice. Oregon 1859: A Snapshot in Time. N.p.: Timber Press, 2008. 129. Print.