Water Works Construction Update – September

September 26, 2019 by Janette Law

Construction at the Water Works site continues apace, with work focusing on restoration and stabilization of historic features, many of which – especially mill remnant walls – will be elements in the design of the park and pavilion. In addition, site demolition and excavation also continues.

Throughout this work, crews are taking particular care of the old cottonwood in front of the Columbia Mill wall. A perimeter fence around the cottonwood was sited by a city arborist to protect the tree from direct damage, but also to prevent over-compaction of the root system.

Looking ahead, we’ll see further restoration work on the mill remnants in preparation for constructing steel support beams for the future pavilion, as well pouring new floors and a deadman*, and other structural elements needed to begin work on the interior. Crews will start working on storm water systems under First St. and the parkway in the coming weeks.

Our thanks to Doug Verdier, community member and RiverFirst Campaign supporter, for his documentation of the project. Check out some of his photos and detailed captions, below.

Work continues on inside of former Fuji Ya restaurant which was constructed over foundations of two former mill buildings.
Stone masons from Building Restoration Corporation erect scaffolding on outer wall of Columbia Flour Mill ruins as part of masonry work to help stabilize the wall. The wall will form a backdrop to a plaza that will be built in front of this building and the former Bassett Mill structure.
Excavators removing debris from basement level of the ruins of the Columbia Flour Mill. Built in 1882, the brick upper level of the six-story structure collapsed in January 1941, and the mill was destroyed four months later in a major fire.
On-site archeologists have been documenting uncovered elements of the former mill buildings. A piece of mounted equipment that was discovered by excavators in the basement level of the Columbia Mill can be seen behind archeologist Tyler Lund-Kyrola of 106 Group. Once the piece was discovered, mechanical digging paused while the archeologist carefully exposed it using hand tools so it could be photographed, measured and documented in order to identify it.
Excavator lifting piece of metal debris from basement area of former Columbia Feed Mill. Items such as this will be evaluated by on-site archeologists for documentation, identification, when possible, and historical significance, if any.
Among the remnants of the Columbia Mill machinery found in the lower level of the mill was this spool of steel cable.
Another part of mill machinery. Some of the rubble from the 1941 fire can be seen behind the wheel.

*What’s a “deadman” you ask? Sometimes called a “deadman anchor,” it’s a piece of wood or poured concrete that’s buried in the ground to anchor a connected structure.

Photo credit: Photos courtesy of Doug Verdier

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *