(Text below from http://pages.uoregon.edu/ecostudy/elp/millrace/history.html)
An Important Piece of Springfield History
For over 150 years, the Springfield Mill Race has been an important part of Springfield's History.
The Mill Race has been a valuable resource throughout the years, having been used for many purposes including water, power, recreation, irrigation, and flood & fire control.
The Mill Race flows from the Middle Fork of the Willamette River, through the south end of Springfield, and into the main stem of the Willamette River near Island Park.
Did You Know?
The 3.5 mile long canal was hand excavated by Elias Briggs, the founder of Springfield. With his son Isaac’s help, he dug the canal in 1852, using an ox-plow and shovels in order to provide power for the first grist and saw mills in the area.
Throughout its history, the Mill Pond served as a popular place to gather for picnics, canoeing, fishing, and swimming. For a time, a diving board and changing room were erected at the corner of Mill and 28th.
Because the Mill Race connects the Willamette River and the Middle Fork of the Willamette, fishing was a very popular activity. Natural waterway or not, the salmon found the throughway of the Mill Race to their liking. It is said that salmon runs were so abundant at one point that a person could catch fish by spearing them from the bank!
Approximately 2/3 of the Mill Race, 76 acres of land, and the Mill Pond were a gift, given to the City of Springfield by Georgia Pacific in 1985.