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Mill City, OR - The City of Mill City and the Save Our Bridge Committee announced today the date for Mill City’s Historic Railroad Bridge Centennial Celebration. Five years in the planning, the festivities are scheduled for Saturday, September 14th from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Mill City at the intersection of North First Avenue and NE Wall Streets.
Events to be included in the celebration are an unveiling of the $9.4 million TIGER grant project (which also includes the North Santiam vehicular bridge and Broadway Street), live music, antique cars, a community birthday cake and more. “We are excited to announce this community wide celebration,” said City of Mill City Mayor, Tim Kirsch, “as the success of this project is a huge win for the North Santiam Canyon.”
Mill City’s Historic Railroad Bridge was built in 1888 and was eventually moved to Mill City by Southern Pacific Railroad in 1919 where it replaced the original bridge made of wooden timbers. The current structure is the last remaining Phoenix Column Bridge in Oregon.
“The bridge reflects the special connection that Mill City and the North Santiam Canyon have had with the railroad,” said Dorothy Keasey of the North Santiam Historical Society. In 1887, Santiam Lumbering Company was formed, and Mill City was established in anticipation of the railroad reaching the area in 1888. The existence of Mill City was directly tied to the ability to move logs and lumber to the local mills and to the Willamette Valley. The railroad was also the main transportation system for both people and freight prior to the development of an all-weather road system. Santiam Lumbering Company was purchased by Hammond Lumber Company in 1900 and expanded to eventually become the largest lumber mill west of the Rocky Mountains.
Southern Pacific Railroad suspended service to Mill City in 1967, and in 1971 the last train crossed the bridge. A portion of the original line still services the Frank Lumber Company Inc. and Freres Lumber Company Inc. located on Lyons-Mill City Drive.
“Mill City’s Historic Railroad Bridge is a signature structure,” said Save Our Bridge Committee Chair, Lynda Harrington. “It serves as a well-used bike, equestrian and pedestrian trail, a meeting place for friends and a prime location for river watching. It really is a source of community pride!”
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