Scotts Mills County Park on the Butte Creek is known for its natural beauty and recreational opportunities. The 13 acres of lands were donated by Portland General Electric and the Haskins family. It was acquired by Marion County, developed, and opened to the public in 1961.
The park's signature attraction, Scotts Mills Falls are 10 feet tall and 40 feet wide. The falls cascade through the rocky cliff just under a concrete dam with mill sluice remnants that have been used to divert water from the creek. Scotts Mills Park boasts an array of fun activities for visitors, especially during the summer months. The warm water of the creek spurs activities such as wading and crawfishing above the falls as well as swimming and jumping off the rocks below the falls.
There are picnic tables, a playground, and a ball field in the park.
Scotts Mills Brief History
The small town of Scotts Mills on Butte Creek is the very first site where one of the best grist mills in Oregon was established. Well, let's unearth some of the history surrounding the town and Scotts Mills County Park.
Thomas McKay built a sawmill on Butte Creek in 1847. Later the sawmill turned into a grist mill under the contraction of Rice Dunbar and Lewis Thomas. The grist mill's ownership changed hands later on when it was sold to Joshua Bowman who sold it to Robert Hall Scott in 1866.
The newly acquired business enterprise was co-run by his brother Thomas Scott, both born in Scotland. A settlement received its name - Scotts Mills in 1866. In 1887, the post office was open and Thomas Scott became its first postmaster.
Thomas Scott sold over 2,000 acres of land to the Oregon Land Development Company in 1893. The company, in a move to fill up and settle the land, inculcated members of the Friends Church. While the company survived for 12 years since its incorporation, it shut down in 1902 due to extreme bankruptcy leading to loss of property.
Scotts Mills was officially incorporated in 1916. Before that, however, the small town has the mills, a prospective mining site, and a prune packing firm. A bank, hotel, stores, coffin factory, schools and gas stations complimented the town and set it on its path to even more vibrant growth.
Barely five decades later, the ever-changing economy contributed to many businesses deterioration and they started closing one after another.
On March 25th, 1993, Scotts Mills was hit by a 5.6 earthquake with the epicenter 3 miles east of the town. Nobody was injured.
Since PGE stopped using Scotts Mills Dam in 1950s, and it has being decaying for many years. Pieces of the structure have been falling into the pool below the dam creating risks of life-threatening accidents for those who jump off the dam or rocks.
Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife proposed to remove the dam's structure to reduce hazards and give a path for salmon to swim to its native spawning grounds. The dam removal was scheduled for September 2020.
Scotts Mills Falls | General Description
Open: May 1 - October 31
Managed: Marion County
Location: Scotts Mills County Park
Services: Picnic tables, playground, ADA restrooms
Accommodations: No overnight camping in the park - day-use only
Distance from the parking: Short
Road access: Any passenger vehicle
Day-use fees: None
Restrictions: Smoking and alcohol are prohibited
Activities: Swimming, wading, picnicking, hiking, and fishing
Dogs: Must be on a leash
Popularity: Moderate to high
Elevation: 440 ft (122 m)
Scotts Mills Park is located:
- 8 miles east of Silverton
- 22 miles northeast of Salem
- 40 miles south of Portland
- 85 miles northeast of Eugene.
Directions to Scotts Mills Falls
- Take Highway OR-213 and drive 4.8 miles to Mt Angel Scotts Mills Road
- Turn right onto Mt Angel Scotts Mills Road and follow 2.7 miles to Crooked Finger Road
- Turn right onto Crooked Finger Road and continue 0.2 miles to the destination.