Restoring The Millrace

Hooray! It is encouraging to learn that the University of Oregon, in building the new science campus, will restore at least a section of the Eugene Millrace. With that example, the remainder of the race should be restored to bring back a great asset for our city.

Prior to the construction of a roadway, in about 1949, the Millrace had a steady flow of water and was widely used for recreation until the city choose to fill the lower section of it for the roadway. I joined with many University of Oregon students and Eugene citizens to object to the destruction of the Millrace.

The best we could negotiate was a compromise, but one that was significant. The city agreed to place large pipes under the fill so that it would continue to have reasonable drainage and agreed to continue to pump water from the Willamette River into the Millrace so that there would be cold water with a satisfactory flow.

Following the construction of the roadway, the city kept its promise — but only for a few years. The flow of the Millrace was slowed, and the pumping of water from the river into the Millrace stopped. As described in the Register-Guard, the result was a stagnant, unpleasant ditch of bad of water.

The restoration could be accomplished in conjunction with the work being done for the University of Oregon. To restore the Millrace would be to return an enormous asset to our city and to keep a promise that was made long ago. 

Arthur C. Johnson


Editor’s note: Art Johnson is a co-owner of Eugene Weekly.