September 28, 2018
Your Guide to the Old Mill District
By: Tyler Spragg
The Old Mill District is a historic area situated along the Deschutes River that was further developed and re-purposed in the mid 1990’s. Nowadays, it is a center for some outstanding shopping, dining, and art galleries. From the front doors of the Pine Ridge Inn, it is less than a mile walk on the Deschutes River Trail to enjoy all that the Old Mill has to offer! Here is an overview of the Old Mill District.
The history of Old Mill District is significant to the character of Bend and who we are as a community today. The following paragraphs were taken from the Old Mill District’s website:
“For nearly a century, timber production was the unchallenged king in Bend, most of it taking place in the Old Mill District. Hardy men used axes, crosscut saws, horses, and ‘high-wheel’ rigs to cut down huge Ponderosa pines in the surrounding forests. The first of the big mills, operated by the Shevlin-Hixon Co., opened in March 1916.
A month later a rival company, Brooks-Scanlon, began operations at its “Mill A” complex on the other side of the river. In 1922 Brooks-Scanlon established a new, bigger mill complex upstream from Mill A. This “Mill B” site makes up the largest portion of the Old Mill District. At their peak, the Brooks-Scanlon and Shevlin-Hixon operations were two of the largest pine sawmills in the world, running around the clock and employing more than 2,000 workers each.
In 1950, facing dwindling timber supplies, Shevlin-Hixon sold its interests to Brooks-Scanlon. Brooks-Scanlon’s Mill A closed in 1983 and was in a state of near ruin before being restored in the early 1990s. The old brick powerhouse buildings and their three towering smokestacks still stand, silently testifying to the district’s colorful past.
For more history on the Shevin-Hixon and Brooks-Scanlon Mills, visit the Old Mill District’s website
Nowadays, you will find an REI (Recreational Equipment Inc) in the Mill B building. This has some significance, as it represents a “passing of the torch” from lumber to outdoor recreation as Bend’s primary industry. Other Bend born/based outdoor companies like Hydroflask, Cairn, Snoplanks, Ruffwear, and Blackstrap are testaments to not only the shift in industry, but how it has benefited our community. We love our outdoor recreation companies!
How to Get to the Old Mill District
The Deschutes River Trail runs through the heart of Bend and beyond along the Deschutes River. It is a great network of well maintained trails to hike and a great way to get a taste of our town.
Many guests of the Pine Ridge Inn walk to the Old Mill District on the Deschutes River Trail. This leg of the trail starts across river from Riverbend Park (pictured below) and is about 3 quarters of a mile long. It is a wide trail which makes plenty of room for hikers, cyclists and pups to enjoy!
Hey it is Riverbend Park as seen from the Pine Ridge Inn! The bottom of this photo is the Deschutes River Trail.
To start your journey from the Pine Ridge Inn, take a left out of our front doors and notice a trail across the lawn and between the two gazebos. Take this trail down to the street (Reed Market) and look left, or downhill towards the Bill Healy bridge. To the left of the bridge is where you will see a post and the start of the trail!
The start of the trail is between these gazebos, next to the green doggy station.
If you would rather drive, take your first two rights out of our driveway to get on Century. At the roundabout, turn right (or as Siri says, take the first exit) onto Colorado. From there, turn right onto Columbia and look to your left after you cross the bridge. Parking can be tight, so be prepared to take a couple of laps.
Once you arrive at the Old Mill District, there is no shortage of ways to enjoy yourself. Bring your surfboard and ride the man-made wave at the Bend Whitewater Park, or just watch from the Colorado Bridge! Once the sun sets over town, catch a flick at the Old Mill Regal theater (yes, you can order Boneyard's RPM IPA for the full Bend experience)!
Also, keep your ear to the ground (or just look here) for concerts and festivals at the Les Schwab Amphitheater! The concert series starts in late spring and goes all the way into September. Dave Matthews, Steve Miller Band, Modest Mouse, and Primus are some examples of recent acts to grace Bend with their tunes! Winterfest and various beer related events have been held at the Les Schwab Amphitheater in past years.
Interested in fly fishing? Check out the permanent 12 hole fly casting course throughout the Old Mill District. It is the first casting course of its kind in North America! For more information, see their website and stop by the ticket mill for a brochure.
Arts, Dining and Shopping
For the full directory of stores in the Old Mill District, click here. If you are interested in local and boutique shops, here are some quick hits on some of our favorites:
- Tumalo Art Company - A fine art collective in Bend, Oregon, owned and operated by artists who showcase a variety of fine art in both modern and traditional styles
- Lubbesmeyer Art & Studio Gallery - Twin artists, Lisa and Lori Lubbesmeyer, blend their backgrounds in painting and printmaking to create strong visual statements in fiber. Expect Fine Art that expands the definition of painting.
- DeWilde Art Glass - Local stained glass craftsman Rich DeWilde has made a career of handcrafting fabulous entry ways and stunning conversation pieces in homes throughout Central Oregon. Check his shop out for examples of his work for windows, doors and individual hanging works of art in various sizes and price ranges.
Restaurants & Wine
- Greg’s Grill - An excellent casual, fine dining restaurant featuring Northwest cuisine right along the Deschutes River.
- Naked Winery - Based out of the Columbia Gorge, Naked Winery pours exquisite wines out of their tasting room in the Old Mill District.
- Ps. The Pine Ridge Inn features a glass of their Outdoor Vino line at check-in for a complimentary beverage!
- Level 2 - Level 2 is a global fusion restaurant with great views of the Cascades from their second story location. Check out their happy hour!
- Desperado - Desperado mixes bohemian charm with the latest in on trend fashion for women and men. Whether work or play, Desperado’s unique lines of clothing capture the essence of our Central Oregon lifestyle.
- Ginger’s Kitchenware - Ginger’s Kitchenware focuses on the personal connection with its customers, while sharing food stories and helping to create new memories. Their knowledge helps to add what they call the “key ingredient” for their customers to make meals at home, entertain and share with friends and neighbors.
- Confluence - Confluence Fly Shop is well stocked with flies, rods and tackle for a great day of fly fishing in Central Oregon. Fly fishing schools, instructional clinics and private casting lessons on the banks of the Deschutes River.
- Sweet Tooth Shoppe - A magical candy store designed to be a fun, memorable experience for kids of all ages! Featuring bulk candy (over 300 kinds!), chocolate, retro and novelty candy, Japanese candy and soda.
Visiting the Old Mill District in Bend, Oregon? Consider staying at the Pine Ridge Inn for spacious accommodations and gorgeous views overlooking the Deschutes River. Book direct for the best rates!