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Grand Ronde tribe starts 3rd round of paper mill demolition

The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde is clearing the way to restore public access to the second most powerful waterfall in North America.

An excavator reaches high to grab and crush metal siding from a building.

Demolition work at Tumwata Village began in 2021.

Photo by Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde

Work on the third and biggest round of demolitions near Willamette Falls is underway. The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde is removing multiple buildings at Tumwata Village where the now-shuttered Blue Heron Paper Company once operated.

The tribe acquired the 23-acre property in 2019 and resumed their role as caretakers of the land and falls, which are part of their ancestral homelands. The site was renamed “Tumwata Village” last year.

This latest round of demolition work will focus on structures located on the northwestern part of the property near downtown Oregon City. Two buildings that housed paper machines — Mill D and the so-called “Butler Building” — are among those scheduled to be razed.

This demolition phase is expected to take four-to-five months to complete, but it likely won’t be the last as the tribe moves toward its vision for Tumwata Village. Public access to Willamette Falls, carefully planned mixed-use development, and environmental restoration are among their end goals.

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