“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Keno in Klamath County, Oregon — The American West (Northwest)

Potter's Mill


Potter's Mill Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Douglass Halvorsen, November 17, 2019
1. Potter's Mill Marker
Located on Long Creek Prairie Creek, this mill was
active only until 1906.

Erected 1976 by Klamath County Historical Society.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Horticulture & ForestryIndustry & Commerce. A significant historical year for this entry is 1906.
Location. 42° 3.272′ N, 122° 15.054′ W. Marker is in Keno, Oregon, in Klamath County. This historical marker is not easily accessible and only during warm weather months (May 15-Oct. 1) and preferably with a 4x4 vehicle with high clearance. Most of the old logging roads leading to this marker and other historical markers in the area are on private timberland open to the general public (for now). This policy may change, as it has become more common in recent years for private landowners to block public access to forest roads due to vandalism, illegal dumping and illegal game hunting. Please be respectful of any landowner signs you may encounter. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Keno OR 97627, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 8 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies
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. Horn's Camp 1895 - 1898 (approx. 0.7 miles away); Old Pokegama (approx. 1.2 miles away); Snow (approx. 2 miles away); New Pokegama - 1903-1909 (approx. 2.3 miles away); Algoma Sawmill (approx. 2.6 miles away); Weyerhaeuser Camp 4 (approx. 5 miles away); Parker Station (approx. 5.4 miles away); Kerwin Ranch (approx. 7.1 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Keno.
More about this marker. Access to this historical marker will require a short hike north of the dirt track road and through some lava rock. Wearing hiking shoes is strongly suggested. A few remnants survive at this former logging mill site including concrete foundations and iron re-bar.
Regarding Potter's Mill. In Issue No. 3 of Klamath Echoes, a journal published by the Klamath County Historical Society from 1966, a passage highlighting Potter's Mill reads:

"Some time after the big fire at Klamathon, and before mid-March of 1903, Mason, Lindley & Coffin Co., must have decided to build a sawmill in the Pokegama country, in or near their timber holdings. To this end, there seems to have been a hint in the Republican of March 19th."

Then on March 26th, Republican, the following appeared: "Speaking of a new sawmill referred to in these columns last week, the Tidings says, 'According to reports which have reached Ashland another new sawmill is to be erected in the Jenny Creek belt, about 25 miles east of Ashland at once. It is reliably reported that work has already begun in extending a spur three or four miles from the main line of
Ruins of Potter's Mill and Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Douglass Halvorsen, November 17, 2019
2. Ruins of Potter's Mill and Marker
Marker is placed on the top of the rock pile. Click on photo to enlarge.
the new Klamath Lake Railroad now under construction from Laird's to the site of the new mill and that the gang which has been engaged on the main line has been transferred to the spur. The mill to be located at a favorable point in Section 16, Township 40, Range 5 east, which section is owned by Mr. Potter who is said to be associated with the Mason & Lindley firm. The new mill will be a large one it is reported, with the capacity of not less than 50,000 feet per day and possibly 100,000'..."

One week later, April 2nd, it was further reported: "At the present time a crew of men are engaged in cutting out a wagon road a mile and a half long and preparing a mill site on section 16, which is school land owned by Mr. Potter." (A dam on Long Prairie Creek, at this location was partially constructed, but may have been washed out by high waters--Ed.).

The May 7th, Republican, reported: "Ground is being broken for a new sawmill about four miles south of Parker's Station and some three miles from the Klamath Lake Railroad. A line is being cut out for a branch railroad to it. The route from there to Johnson's Prairie is comparatively level and presents no obstacles and the report is that two mills will be built about the Prairie, one on section 5, and the other in that neighborhood. An Oshkosh company owns a good tract of timber there. This is about nine miles from
Potter's Mill Ruins image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Douglass Halvorsen, November 17, 2019
3. Potter's Mill Ruins
A few remnants of former Potter's Mill survive today.
the Klamath Railroad. The completion of the line to Pokegama seems to assure an important lumber industry in the region some fifteen miles thereabout."

Finally on July 16th, Republican, we have this final bit of information, reprinted from the Tidings: "Failure to secure a mill site where a sufficient amount of water to supply the boilers is insured has delayed the setting up of the big new sawmill near the terminus of the Klamath Lake Railroad at Pokegama by Potter & Son. The machinery has been on the ground from some time and a site was selected and excavations for a dam made and about eight feet of water turned in it but the supply failed with the coming on of dry weather and made the selection of a new site necessary." (The site finally chosen was in the extreme southwestern corner of section 28, possibly extending into the southeastern corner of section 29--Ed.)

Very little additional information has been found on Potter's Mill. One reason for this lack of information may be that most of the Republican files for 1906 have disappeared, or have been destroyed. Another reason may be attributed to the new interest being developed in the Southern Pacific's approach to Klamath Falls from Weed. This new railroad occupied the interest of most people in the Klamath Basin for several years, to the exclusion of most other news. We do have some eye-witness
Potter's Mill image. Click for full size.
4. Potter's Mill
Unidentified group of men at Potter's Mill in 1908. Fifth man from the right is John Zbinden, fire warden that year in the Pokegama area. The white dog "Duke" belonged to Zbinden.

Photo from Klamath Echoes, issue No. 3 from 1966, page 59.
reminiscences of Potter's Mill by three old timers, Prentice Puckett, Loren Close and Hal Ogle, and these are given on the following pages.

"Print" Pickett had the following to say about Potter's Mill from his memories:

"The railroad at Potter's Mill ran right alongside the mill. They could dump the logs into a pond on either side, or right onto the log deck in the mill. It was a double-cut mill and could saw about 60,000 feet in 10 hours. The horse pasture lay along Long Prairie Creek, from the mill to Old Pokegama."

Another Klamath Echoes issue No. 16 titled, Railroads into Klamath, also mentions Potter's Mill and reads:

"By April, 1903 it was reported that a crew of men were cutting out a road to extend a branch line railroad north from the Klamath Lake Railroad into Section 16. By May, ground was being broken for Potter & Sons new sawmill some four miles south of Parker Station on the Ashland-Klamath Falls wagon road. Failure to secure sufficient water caused much delay until a new mill site was developed in Section 28. The machinery had been on hand for some time by then.

Old timers agree the mill was a double-cut affair, and seems to have shipped out about two carloads of lumber per week. The branch line "railroad ran alongside the mill where they could dump the logs into the pond or right onto the log deck." The
<i>Klamath Echoes</i> map, 1966 image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Douglass Halvorsen
5. Klamath Echoes map, 1966
A hand drawn map showing the area between Klamath River and Highway 66 with former logging railroads, mills and camps.
mill had a capacity of 60,000 feet in ten hours but seldom ever cut that amount. A horse pasture for the logging teams extended northward along Long Prairie Creek to "Old Pokegama."

The mill lay idle for a number of years but seems to to have steamed up in the early summer of 1911, just prior to being dismantled and shipped out to the main Southern Pacific line at Thrall. The branch line was also dismantled that year."
Also see . . .  Historical landscape overview of the upper Klamath River Canyon of Oregon and California. On Page 142, written by Stephen Beckham, references Potter's Mill Railroad that once ran through this site and reads, "The Potter's Mill Railroad, 1903-07, headed northeast from the Klamath LakeRailroad for about a dozen miles in the vicinity of Potter's Mill. The Pokegama Sugar Pine Lumber Company Railroad and its successor, the Klamath Lake Railroad, and the spur lines-the Algoma Lumber Company Railroad and the Potter's Mill Railroad provided important transportation links to the Pokegama Plateau prior to World War I."

Nothing survives today of the former logging railroad that passed through this site. (Submitted on April 4, 2020, by Douglass Halvorsen of Klamath Falls, Oregon.) 
Credits. This page was last revised on April 5, 2020. It was originally submitted on April 4, 2020, by Douglass Halvorsen of Klamath Falls, Oregon. This page has been viewed 191 times since then and 46 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on April 4, 2020, by Douglass Halvorsen of Klamath Falls, Oregon. • Syd Whittle was the editor who published this page.

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Sep. 22, 2023