Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Cedar Creek Grist Mill and Lewis River Falls

Every year I like to check out someplace new.  Luckily, there's no shortage of interesting and photogenic subjects in my immediate area.  One that comes up every autumn on the local photography social media sites is the Cedar Creek Grist Mill.

Cedar Creek Historic Grist Mill

Located just outside of Woodland, Washington, the mill is a short jaunt up I-5 from Portland.  One late October Friday afternoon, I decided to pay this historic structure a visit.

Hard to get a clear photo with all the trees

Fall is a wonderful time to photograph the grist mill.  Situated at the bottom of a narrow canyon, the adjacent slopes are ablaze with trees in full autumn finery.  Large, mossy branches surround the creek, draping over it's banks.

The mill, framed by mossy branches

The Cedar Creek Mill was originally built in 1876.  Throughout the years it was used for grinding grain, and as a blacksmith and machine shop.  After falling into disrepair, in the 1980s a group of local residents banded together to save the historic structure.  Through numerous bazaars and raffles, the group raised money to pay for badly-needed repairs.  Fully restored in 1989, the mill again ground wheat - just in time for Washington state's centennial celebration.

Still lots of fall leaves

Nowadays, the mill is on the National Register of Historic Places.  It functions as a working museum, demonstrating operation of a grist mill from a long-ago era.  Open most weekends, it grinds grains for visitors, and depending upon time of year, also presses apples into cider.

Covered bridge adjacent to the mill

I got lucky with a perfect fall day for my first visit to the mill.  Although the afternoon sun made photography a bit tricky, I was able to get a few shots I liked. 

Mill viewed from the covered bridge

The best place to capture the entire structure without trees blocking the view was on an adjacent covered bridge.

The bridge hidden by leaves

Of course, the covered bridge was a photo subject all by itself!

Covered bridge entrance

Although the mill wasn't open to the public that Friday, there were quite a bit of people inside, no doubt gearing up for the weekend ahead.

The Mill sign

Photographers comprised most of the visitors that day.  We all politely jockeyed for positions on the bridge and through tree openings along the opposite creek bank.  I struck up a conversation with one friendly man, and he pointed out a camera crew from the local PBS show "Oregon Field Guide" being led through the mill building.

Upriver fall color

Funny coincidence, the Oregon Field Guide story about this grist mill showed up on the OPB website just as was getting ready to write my blog post.  Check it out here.  The footage is from the very same day I happened to be there.

Lone leaf

Although the fall colors were a tad past prime, the Cedar Creek Mill was a worthy autumn destination.  It most certainly will see some return visits from me!

Lewis River Falls

With still a few hours left in the afternoon, I decided since I was in the area to drive the extra 60-some miles and see Lewis River Falls.  However, I sorely underestimated my driving time.  Winding narrow Forest Service roads take much longer to travel!  A full hour and 45 minutes later, I pulled into the day use parking lot at the very late hour of 4 pm.  Not wishing to drive the rough entrance road back out in the dusk, I had at most a mere hour to spend here.

Full view of Lewis River Falls

After driving for so long to reach these beautiful cascades, I was sorely disappointed to discover my subject in terrible light.  Mostly in deep shade, with the surrounding landscape in bright sunlight, capturing any halfway decent images was going to be tricky.

A few other photographers had set up tripods at an overlook and appeared to be pondering the same dilemma.  One guy in a group of three men recognized me from the Cedar Creek Mill.  Apparently they'd also stopped there first.

Golden leaves and falling water

Despite the challenging lighting conditions, Lower Lewis River Falls was gorgeous.  A wide, multi-tiered cascade, it fanned beautifully over a drop in the river.  The last of the fall leaves accented the surrounding area.  And the bright sunlight wasn't all bad - it did produce a brilliant rainbow!

Rainbow sighting!

One hour passes by much too quickly when you're shooting waterfalls.  Before I knew it, it was time to pack up and get out before darkness cloaked the area.  I was kind of disappointed not to be able to visit the other waterfalls in the area.  Guess that just means I'll have to come back!

Wanting to make a giant loop, I chose to return through Carson, WA with a stop at my favorite pizza and brewpub.  Although that meant a late arrival back home, despite spending most of the day driving, I felt I'd had a very productive afternoon.

To learn more about the Cedar Creek Grist Mill, you can visit their website.


  1. Great captures of the mill and falls, especially with fall color!

  2. You got some fine pictures despite the difficulties in photographing the scenes. Too many autumn leaves? Too much sunshine? We photographers are a hard lot to please, aren't we? I'm always interested in our different perceptions of distance on opposite sides of the Atlantic; I rarely travel more than 60 miles to photograph anything, "nearby" is within a couple of miles or so!

  3. I think it is great when you find a gem like that and one that is worth going back to. We have a couple of working mills around our area though I have never used their milled flour (bit overpriced) Nice shots of the falls, least you did not fall in like I did when I tried getting some the other day.

  4. Adoro estas pontes antigas são muito belas e românticas.
    As fotografias estão espectaculares.
    Continuação de uma boa semana.

    Dedais de Francisco e Idalisa
    O prazer dos livros

  5. Hello Linda, gorgeous photos of the mill and covered bridge. It does look like a great place to visit. I love the waterfall and the beautiful fall leaves and colors. Your photos are just beautiful. Have a great day! Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

  6. ...gorgeous, this is what dreams are made of! Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving.

  7. We have a ranger station that is 50 miles away and takes 2 hours to get to. People are usually surprised. The light on the waterfalls looks good to me. It's your great photography skills!

  8. What wonderful subjects. Clearly, you made the most of difficult lighting!

  9. I like old restored historical sites. You recognize poor light before taking the photo. I only recognize poor light after I've taken the photo.

  10. Another awesome post Linda. You and your camera certainly worked wonders with that 'POOR' light.

  11. Beautiful captures, Linda! Old Mills are fun to photograph. And the falls are stunning.

  12. That mill is terrific and just the sort of place period films are made using locations like that....nostalgic past times or modern Gothic horror films... Like the waterfalls and tree colours.

  13. Very picturesque old mill, and beautiful water falls.

  14. This mill is in remarkable shape and so picturesque and the covered bridge reminded me of sights I saw in New England. The waterfalls were so silky soft!

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

  15. Looks like you picked a good day to visit the mill. Hope you were able to get some flour while you were there! Beautiful photos of the Lewis River Falls too. Nice day!

  16. What a beautiful place and great shots of it. Happy Thanksgiving!

  17. Loved your photos of the grist mill and Lewis river falls. The mill is a fun place. Been there. Not made it to the falls yet. Your rainbow and falls photo is so pretty! Thanks for sharing and happy day my friend. So thankful to know you and hope your foot is much better now. xx

  18. The grist mill is on my list, as are the Lewis River falls. Maybe during spring runoff, with new leaves on the trees. Thanks for sharing your gorgeous photographs!

  19. What a stunning place. The Autumn colours are just beautiful.

  20. Great shots of historic structures and the falls look spectacular!

  21. Loving this post. The Grist Mill is wonderful and Lewis River Falls are equally beautiful. I must make a note to maybe someday visit this area.

  22. Those waterfall photos look pretty good to me! :)


Don't be shy! Please leave a comment.