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Volunteers build roof for donated sawmill at Philip Foster Farm National Historic Site in Eagle Creek

COURTESY PHOTO: PHILIP FOSTER FARM - A sawmill at Philip Foster Farm will eventually be used to mill wood at the National Historic Site.

Philip Foster Farm National Historic Site is one step closer to having a working sawmill.

Volunteers built a roof for the structure on Saturday, Oct. 2.

The saw mill was donated to the farm at 22725 S.E. Eagle Creek Road several years ago, and its parts have been stored in people's barns prior to its arrival on site.

"A lot of people in the area had their own small mills, because they built their own stuff," said Jennifer Goldman, program director at Philip Foster Farm, adding that Philip Foster had a mill on his property in Eagle Creek.

In 1840, Philip Foster and his wife, Mary Charlotte, established a 640-acre farm and hosted numerous pioneers traveling west on the historic Barlow Road. Their property featured a store and places for weary travelers to stay.

Last November, the National Historic Site received a land-use permit from Clackamas County for a construction project that included the sawmill, as well as a schoolhouse and visitor center. The farm also received a grant from the Mt. Hood Territory for the project.

Once the sawmill is up and running, leaders at the farm plan to put it to use.

"A lot of historical buildings didn't use standard sized wood," Goldman said. "Being able to mill our own wood will be very useful."

One of the projects volunteers plan to use the sawmill for is building a replica of the original Eagle Creek Schoolhouse, which was built in the 1850s. They will do this based on a photo of the building and a receipt for lumber used on the first structure.

"The Foster family donated land for the Eagle Creek Schoolhouse," Goldman said, adding that they'll use the replica building to host classes.

She estimated that work on the sawmill will be completed by next summer. Along with assembling the pieces, volunteers will determine how to add safety features without making the structure look too modern.

"Lumbering was such a huge part of Estacada. It was part of Philip Foster's story, and it was part of this area's story," Goldman said.

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