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News / Business / Clark County Business

Cedar Creek Grist Mill keeps on turnin’

Woodland-area landmark hosts its first event of 2023

By Carlos Fuentes, Columbian staff writer
Published: May 27, 2023, 7:16pm
5 Photos
The Cedar Creek Grist Mill outside of Woodland sits above Cedar Creek. The mill, built in 1876 and restored in the 1980s, is operated by a group of about 10 volunteers. It is open to visitors every Saturday afternoon.
The Cedar Creek Grist Mill outside of Woodland sits above Cedar Creek. The mill, built in 1876 and restored in the 1980s, is operated by a group of about 10 volunteers. It is open to visitors every Saturday afternoon. (Carlos Fuentes/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

WOODLAND — John Clapp first volunteered at the Cedar Creek Grist Mill outside of Woodland in 1978. Forty-five years later, he has learned a thing or two about grinding wheat and other grains at the creek-powered mill, but perhaps none more important than one fact:

“Once the creek hits the bottom, you can’t grind anymore,” Clapp said to a group of visitors at the mill’s fried bread event Saturday afternoon.

Friends of the Cedar Creek Grist Mill hosted the event, during which volunteers fried bread from flour milled onsite and invited visitors to stop by for bread, tours and a history lesson.

The event brought scores of visitors to the mill — a warm welcome after the group canceled several events last year due to the creek’s low water levels not providing sufficient power to operate the mill.

Volunteers also ground white and whole wheat varieties of flour and cornmeal for visitors to pick up. The mill receives its grains from a distillery in Central Oregon, which ships to a facility in Woodland, Clapp said.

The event was previously known as Bread and Butter Day and offered visitors the chance to churn their own butter, but new health protocols put an end to that practice. On Saturday, visitors spread packaged butter on their bread.

The mill, which was built in 1876 and restored in the 1980s, is funded by public donations and operated by a group of roughly 10 volunteers.

Every Saturday afternoon, the mill is open to visitors, who can learn about the mill and even bring their own grains for grinding. Jeffrey Berry, a longtime member and former president of Friends of the Cedar Creek Grist Mill, said the group is seeking more volunteers to expand the mill’s public hours.

“We need volunteers. I mean, we used to have enough volunteers that there were two people here Saturday and two people here Sunday,” Berry said. These days, there is just one volunteer most Saturdays, he said.

The volunteer group hosts similar events on the last Saturday of most months, including a Cider Pressing Day, Blueberry Pancake Day and Cornbread Day.

Saturday’s event was the first of the year. Berry, who helped restore the mill decades ago, said he appreciates the community surrounding the mill and is thankful to all the volunteers and visitors who make its operations possible.

“There’s some people I see year after year,” Berry said. “There’s some kids that I remember being 5, 6 years old, helping me with the press, and now, they come back year after year.”

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Columbian staff writer