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For the first time in 150 years, Oregonians have the opportunity to rediscover a cultural and scenic treasure: Willamette Falls. A public vision and master plan are taking shape, with the goal of transforming a 23-acre industrial site nestled along the Falls in historic Oregon City. This former paper mill could someday serve as an economic engine, a waterfront destination, a unique habitat, a window into Oregon’s past – and a bold step into our future.

Whatever develops on the landscape will be shaped by Willamette Falls, roaring in the Willamette River below. The largest waterfall in the Pacific Northwest, it was long an important cultural and gathering place for Native American tribes. The Oregon Trail ended here. And throughout the 1800s, the Falls made history by generating energy for Oregon’s early industries and cities and fueling the nation’s first long-distance electrical power transmission. That industrial legacy ended in 2011, when the Blue Heron Paper Co. closed its doors – the last in a succession of businesses that contributed to Oregon City’s strong working waterfront.


Portland General Electric has graciously allowed us to link to their video on the history of Willamette Falls. A link to the 6 minute version can be found here

Why Now?

The former paper mill was recently purchased, but the site’s complexity and risks still create a hurdle for transformation. That’s why Oregon City, Clackamas County, Metro, the State of Oregon and the new owners are working together to develop a vision and master plan. By rezoning the site and providing certainty for investors, the Willamette Falls Legacy Project will help a new era take shape along the Falls.

There’s a lot at stake. If the property is abandoned, the resulting blight would hurt property values in downtown Oregon City, one of the region’s most important economic hubs. Public safety risks and extra costs would burden taxpayers. Water quality and wildlife would deteriorate in one of the Willamette River’s most ecologically diverse stretches. And Oregon City wouldn’t recover the 175 family-wage jobs that vanished along with the paper mill.

With master planning underway, Oregonians can establish a statewide legacy and reconnect Oregonians and visitors with Willamette Falls. They can define how the area is transformed for economic redevelopment, public access, healthy habitats, and historical and cultural interpretation.

To see a map of the site, click here.

For frequently asked questions, including updated information on the new owner, click here.


Visit the Willamette Falls Legacy Project Booth at the First City Celebration this Saturday

This Saturday, downtown Oregon City will be filled with art, beer, wine, music, living history actors, and a pretty important coin toss. Bring the family and stop by our booth. We will have updated project information, Community Champion tags and surveys and opportunities to tweet, and facebook your passion for the falls to your friends and family.  Look for us at the Main Street booth area near 7th Street. #firstcity2014 #portlandcointoss #willamettefalls


Saturday, July 26, 11:00 am - 9:00 pm
Main Street Oregon City

  • Over 100 juried artists
  • 14 local wineries, a brewery, a cider company and more
  • Food Vendors and Food Trucks
  • Business Marketplace
  • Live Entertainment 

Heritage Fair:

  • Heritage story site installations throughout event
  • Living history actors at multiple sites throughout downtown

The Portland Coin Toss

Way back in 1845, Francis Pettygrove from Portland, ME and Asa Lovejoy from Boston, MA held a coin toss to determine the name of what we now know as Portland, OR. Where did this coin toss occur?  

Why, in Oregon City!

Nearly 170 years later, we are reenacting the coin toss. Whichever side of the coin has the most votes by 8:00 pm on Saturday, July 26 will determine if Portland is the heads or tails side. Then watch the Coin Toss at 8:00 pm, July 26 in Oregon City's Liberty Plaza during Oregon's First City Celebration. Who will win? Portland or Boston?  Text HEADS or TAILS to 51555 to vote!


Master Plan Hearings Set for Fall 2014

It seems it was just yesterday that we were proudly announcing the start of the public visioning process for the former Blue Heron Paper Mill at the 2013 First City Celebration. The response, frankly, was overwhelming. Thousands of Oregonians came together over this last year to shape the future of Willamette Falls. They imagined a project that would do justice to the beauty of this place; that would honor the past and speak to the future.

The Blue Heron site, despite its stunning location on the Willamette Falls and its historical importance as the founding place of Oregon,  also presents significant challenges to attracting private investment. The combination of market conditions, inadequate infrastructure, and challenging site conditions are all barriers to private development. We hope that the approach taken in the upcoming Master Plan balances these two forces and creates a future development program that aims high but provides a fair amount of flexibility for market implementation.

The Framework Master Plan will solidify the community’s and owner’s vision, and clear barriers to redevelopment. It will give the owner flexibility to build everything from hotels to health clubs, museums to markets, offices to light industrial buildings. The Plan will ensure that development reflects and respects the site’s natural setting and industrial history, makes it easy to walk and bike, and blends in with downtown Oregon City, while creating a unique sense of place in the new waterfront district. It also ensures healthy habitat along the Willamette River and preservation of key historic structures when it’s feasible—and when it’s not, incorporation of artifacts into the design.

The new site owner, George Heidgerken and his team at Falls Legacy LLC, are working closely with staff to move forward with the Master Plan. The Master Plan and corresponding Zone Change is on track to be submitted next week with public hearings starting in September. Additional information on the hearings process and opportunities for public comment will be updated on this website in the coming weeks.



Tell us how we can realize the vision of the Willamette Falls Legacy Project. 

The Willamette Falls Legacy Project and our partners are currently conducting research to help us understand our growing community and our community’s capacity to keep our project moving forward. We are also conducting research to help us understand the feasibility of forming an official group to provide ongoing support to the Project in partnership with public and private agencies. We are one community, so please share your voice with us!

We would like you to share with us your background, opinions, and interests by completing our online survey:



A lot has happened in the last couple of weeks here at the Willamette Falls Legacy Project. There is a new site owner and a lot of information is being transfer to his team. What has not changed is the commitment to realize the vision that thousands of Oregonians have helped create. We hope to move forward with public hearings in late summer/early fall and will have those dates to you as soon as they are finalized.

The Framework Master Plan is expected to be approved in 2014, solidifying the community’s vision and clearing barriers to redevelopment. It gives a future developer flexibility to build everything from hotels to health clubs, museums to markets, offices to light industrial buildings. But some things aren’t negotiable: Developers will have to reflect and respect the site’s natural setting and industrial history. Make it easy to walk and bike. Blend in with downtown Oregon City, while creating a unique sense of place in the new waterfront district. Preserve key historic structures when it’s feasible – and, when it’s
not, incorporate artifacts into the design. Promote healthy habitat along the Willamette River. And build something that will last.



A Closer Look at One of the Four Core Values: Economic Development

Throughout the month of April, we have dedicated our blog posts to a deeper examination of the interrelated core values that guide the Willamette Falls Legacy Project vision and master plan.  We complete the series this week with an in-depth look at Economic Redevelopment, which is especially pertinent as economic redevelopment can only be realized by also achieving the interrelated goals of Public Access, Historic and Cultural Interpretation, and Healthy Habitat. 

The Willamette Falls property will carry on a tradition of economic development along the riverfront, where mills thrived for more than a century. The 175 jobs lost when the Blue Heron Paper Co. closed can be redressed through redevelopment. Returning part of the site to private developers, the partners will ensure the transformation supports Oregon City’s vision for the future and reinvigorates the downtown as a hub of employment, shopping, business and tourism. 


The master plan for Willamette Falls creates a regulatory framework with a balance between certainty and flexibility that encourages and enables revitalization of the site, and removes barriers to redevelopment. Changes to the site enabled by this plan will elevate it into a regional amenity and a four-season destination location, stimulate private investment and job creation, improve riparian habitat, and honor the unique heritage of the place. Site redevelopment will create a new market and an impetus for new development across Oregon City and the greater region.


The potential economic benefits of redevelopment include short-term construction jobs and permanent full time positions once construction is complete, as well as millions of dollars in annual tax revenue and estimated annual visitor spending.  Additional benefits are less quantifiable, but are equally important to Oregon City and Clackamas County’s ongoing economic development efforts. Redevelopment of the site transforms Oregon City’s downtown into an attraction that is important at the national level, bringing new energy and more people to downtown Oregon City’s existing businesses, and creating a completely unique place that all can enjoy.


Creating an amenity that respects the nationally-significant history of the site will require coordinated public action from local, regional, state, and federal sources. Investments in high quality public open space and access to the site’s major amenities (the river and the falls) are a critical first step in redeveloping the site. These actions will be necessary to begin the transformation of the site into an attractive location for private co-investment in redevelopment.

In the coming months, a land use application to rezone the industrial area to allow for a mix of uses is scheduled to go before the Oregon City Planning Commission.  You can help by giving verbal or written testimony.  For more information, contact Kelly Moosbrugger at


A Closer Look at One of the Four Core Values: Healthy Habitat

Over the past few weeks, we have taken an in-depth look two of the four interrelated core values that guide the vision and master plan: Public Access and Historic and Cultural Interpretation.  This week, we continue the series by exploring Healthy Habitat.

Historically, Willamette Falls was surrounded by plants dependent upon the microclimates associated with the waterfall mist.  Today, many rare plants thrive on river islands in the Willamette Narrows and along Canemah Bluff. The area also is important for water quality and the species that depend on clean, healthy water.  Much of the naturally steep shoreline has been modified by years of development and industrial uses and is now lined with fill, pipes, and other structures. Five outfalls and three industrial tailraces (drainage channels) emerge at the shoreline. 

Restoration actions will be developed to increase the presence and condition of native habitats and improve water quality on the site. The riverbank south of the site is also part of this project and offers additional opportunities for habitat restoration.  Among the opportunities for maintenance, restoration, protection and enhancement of a healthy habitat are:

  • Aquatic Habitat – salmon, steelhead and lamprey are known to pass through this part of the river, but don’t currently have adequate resting habitat.
  • Shorebirds – shorebirds use the falls, but access to rocky outcroppings is limited compared to the historical extents.
  • Basalt Geology – the site is mostly underlain with basalt bedrock similar to the falls, with some soils that could support new vegetation
  • Floodplain – flood events, including the 1964 and 1996 floods inundated portions of the site. The river below the falls is tidally influenced, with an average change in water level of approximately 3-4 feet, twice a day.

The master plan identifies areas along the riverbank where habitat enhancements and riparian bank restoration could occur. The general principle advanced by the master plan is for the riverbank to re-establish a rough edge and to meander in a pattern more indicative of its pre-industrial state, in order to allow more opportunities for fish to rest and riparian vegetation to thrive. Restoration and enhancement opportunities for improving fish and wildlife habitat can also provide improvements for water resources, including stormwater treatment and water quality. Specific habitat restoration targets include:

  • Riparian Habitat:  restoring native trees and shrubs along river; protecting and restoring rocky outcrops by removing buildings and structures; providing important habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife species; and improving water quality through filtration, stormwater attenuation, and woody debris and leaf litter inputs into the river.
  • Native Fish Habitat: restoring shoreline habitat complexity, including alcoves and inlets for cool water refugia and off-channel habitat during periods of high river flow; and providing important resting and movement habitat for anadromous fish species.
  • Water Quality: improving water temperature and chemistry above existing conditions at the site. In addition, re-establishing tail races to receive greater flows from the lagoon above will have multiple environmental benefits. The water quality of the lagoon will improve through circulation of fresh water through the area. Below, greater circulation would aerate water flowing through the tail races, thus providing a more welcoming habitat for fish and other riparian vegetation

The Willamette Falls Legacy Project provides an opportunity to enhance native habitats, protect and improve water quality for wildlife, reestablish native plant communities, and improve and sustain the natural systems that support a healthy environment.  Let us know how you can help restore a healthy habitat at Willamette Falls.  Sign up to become a Community Champion today!



A Closer Look at One of the Four Core Values: Historic and Cultural Interpretation

Throughout April, our weekly blogs will take an in-depth look the four interrelated core values that guide the vision and master plan. Last week we examined how we can ensure public access to the falls. This week we explore Historic and Cultural Interpretation.

Willamette Falls is rich with stories, history, and culture.  Since time immemorial, the falls have served as an important cultural site for native tribes and is mentioned prominently in the oral literature and stories of Native peoples. 

As the end of the Oregon Trail and the birthplace of Oregon, this area served as a launching point for thousands of new Oregonians. The administrative center of a growing U.S. territory, Oregon City utilized a grid of streets laid atop the basalt. Long before streets were platted in Seattle, Portland or San Francisco, Oregon City’s Main Street extended from the falls, through this site and north through the basalt bench, becoming the spine of a thriving Pioneer community.

The falls also tell the story of the area’s industrial development. The Willamette River offered relatively cheap and efficient transportation, abundant fresh water, and the power generated by the drop over the falls.  Oregon City became known for production of forest products and also was a logical point for grinding grains to produce flour and meal. Over time, sawmills and flouring mills gave way to woolen mills which were eventually replaced by paper manufacturing. The worker-owned Blue Heron Paper Company was created in 2000 and closed on February 23, 2011, ending 125 years of continuous paper mill use of the site.

Oregon City 1904 (CCHS all Rights Reserved)

The Willamette Falls Legacy Project seeks to provide opportunities for visitors and residents to learn about this historic site, its geologic history, its Native American heritage, and the end of the Oregon Trail.  This includes increasing awareness of all aspects of the cultural and historic significance of Willamette Falls, respecting and accommodating Native American salmon fishing and lamprey harvest traditions, highlighting the national importance of industrial development and commemorating the events that lead to the birth of Oregon.

Project partners have initiated a dialogue with the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde, the Willamette Valley Treaty Tribe which ceded much of the land in the Willamette Valley to settlers, including Willamette Falls and the Blue Heron mill site. Team members have also reached out to other Tribes with an interest in the area, including the Confederated Tribes of the Siletz Indians, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, and the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation.


lamprey harvest -Oregonian all rights reserved 

The Willamette Falls Legacy Project site is among the most historic places in Oregon. Today, many of the built resources on the property have a strong and significant association with Oregon’s industrial history. The site’s built resources and history are valuable assets from a cultural, economic and environmentally sustainable development standpoint. A repurposed site, retaining a strong connection to its past and creatively transformed to new uses, can continue the important role this property has played in the region’s history.

Specific economic benefits also support the retention and reuse of some of the historic resources that cannot be captured by non-historically based development. The Willamette Falls site is not currently located within a local or National Register Historic District and there are currently no locally designated historic structures located on the property. Oregon’s State Historic Preservation Office indicated that 14 of the buildings located on site are contributing historic structures that are potentially eligible for listing
on the National Register of Historic Places. However, many of these buildings were custom built for industrial processing and have limited options for market-based redevelopment.

The expectation of the master plan is that future development will retain the historic character of the industrial site at a very fundamental level, and incorporate some of its historic resources into future development plans. Five primary historic structures identified in the plan—De-ink, Mill O, Hawley, No. 4 Paper Machine, and Woolen Mill Foundations—are particularly important, and should ideally be preserved or adaptively reused. These structures can also play an important role in creating a strong identity for the site, especially when combined with public access and open spaces. Other structures may also be incorporated into the design of a future project, as appropriate, since many of them also give a unique character to the property.  Lastly, care should be taken to refrain from concentrating all of our efforts on the existing 20th Century industrial buildings at the exclusion of tribal and territorial era stories.

Like an onion, the layers of history that are connected to the site, once unpeeled, can provide a much deeper understanding of the power of this place.



A closer look at one of the four Core Values: Public Access

Throughout April, our weekly blogs will explore the four interrelated core values that guide the vision and master plan.  This week, we take an in-depth look at Public Access.  Willamette Falls has been essentially closed to the public for 150 years, with access limited to approaching by boat or viewing from a highway overlook.  Public access goals for the project include:

  1. Providing a front-row seat to experience the majestic Willamette Falls
  2. Expanding opportunities for public spaces along the river
  3. Creating connections for people to the river, downtown, and natural environment in Oregon City

The vision and master plan propose a number of exciting opportunities to achieve these goals.

Circulation. The historic street grid is restored to facilitate walking and biking and enhance vehicular access.  Main Street connects to the north provide public access to the Falls and a seamless extension of downtown Oregon City.  Along the riverbank, Water Street once again extends into the site, using the Riverwalk esplanade as a generous sidewalk.

Riverwalk.  The Riverwalk creates continuous public access to view the river. It links a series of overlooks and docks along the river’s edge and connects to the street grid and future open spaces.  Trees, benches and river overlooks create a memorable gateway to Willamette Falls and beyond. 

Viewing Platform.  The PGE dam presents a unique opportunity to create a public walkway over the river.  Visitors gain access on the dam’s surface allowing them to walk out to an existing platform providing an intimate view of the Falls.

Connections.  An existing rail spur is transformed into a continuous path south along the riverfront and a new pedestrian bridge allows for safe access to the Canemah Bluffs Natural Area and the regional bicycle network.  Bank restoration on the river’s edge provides beautiful views and a shaded edge to the trail.

Public access along the waterfront and to Willamette Falls is the first and most important step to restoring public access. The Riverwalk will be a catalyst for economic development in Oregon City and enhance the value of development on the site.  It also will bring visitors to the site and generate energy and momentum for continued implementation of the master plan.  The project partners (Oregon City, Clackamas County, Metro and the State of Oregon) recently agreed to seek sources of funding to design the Riverwalk. 

Show your support for restoring public access to Willamette Falls – sign up to become a Community Champion today!


Project Update for April 2014

For the past nine months, thousands of Willamette Falls Legacy Project supporters have helped shape a vision and master framework plan for the former Blue Heron site. That work is nearly ready to go before the Oregon City Planning Commission and City Commission in the form of a zone change and a master plan.  The first public hearing of the Planning Commission was scheduled for April 21, 2014.  Since then, several developers have made offers to purchase the Blue Heron property.  The current interested buyer is studying the site and framework plan, and meeting with Legacy Project partners to explore how their ideas for the area fit our community vision. Last week, the bankruptcy trustee for the site, Peter McKittrick, sent a letter requesting that the City postpone the land use hearings to give the potential buyer more time for due diligence. As the trustee and the project partners have been working in good faith for many months, the partners are happy to accommodate this request.

Mr. McKittrick’s letter describes the value of the visioning and planning effort, stating “I believe this planning project has already created increased recognition and value for the site.”

A new date for the first public hearing has not yet been determined.  However, the City will host a public Open House on April 21st from 6:00 to 8:00 PM at City Hall, 625 Center Street, to display the proposed master plan. This informal event will offer a chance to chat with City staff about the Willamette Falls Legacy Project prior to public hearings.

In the meantime, momentum is not slowing down - the partners are hard at work on implementation of the plan.  We are beginning to seek funding for a riverfront walkway that will catalyze the entire site and downtown area.  In addition, more than 150 people have signed up as community champions.  The champions have pledged to lend a hand to the project by writing letters of support, volunteering to organize site tours, and being part of a “Friends of Willamette Falls” group in the future.  Sign up to become a champion and let us know how you’d like to be a part of this once in a generation opportunity!


The Working Falls

The legacy of Willamette Falls, is one of its natural beauty and cultural and social significance, as well as its central role in the industry and economy of the Portland region.  Through most of the 1800s, the Falls were the stopping point for steamboat traffic, providing trade to Oregon and Linn cities on both banks of the river.  The completion of the Willamette Falls Locks in 1873 allowed river traffic and commerce to move freely up and down the Willamette. 

Willamette Falls’ industrial legacy is also one of generating electricity and powering mills.  Portland General Electric (PGE) built a hydro-electric generation facility at the falls in 1888.  Just one year later, a 14-mile transmission line to Portland became the site of the first long distance transmission of electrical energy in the history of the world.  No longer tied to electricity-generating facilities, this innovation shaped the form of the modern city.  In 1895, PGE constructed the Station B facility, which is still in operation today.

Willamette Falls was powering saw mills before electricity was even invented.  Dr. John McLoughlin built what may have been the first industrial saw mill west of the Mississippi to produce the lumber from which Oregon City was built.  Over the next 30 years, flour, brick and woolen mills followed.  The woolen mill went on to become the largest of its kind in the West, before closing operations during the great depression. The first paper mill at Willamette Falls, Oregon City Paper Manufacturing Co., opened in 1866 launching and industry that would employ thousands of Oregonians for the next 150 years and beyond.  Only one mill, the West Linn Paper Company, remains today after the Blue Heron Paper Company shut its doors in 2011.

1950s Publishers Paper Mill Workers -Clackamas County Historical Society All Rghts Reserved


The Willamette Falls Legacy Project seeks to continue the legacy of the Working Falls by transforming the former Blue Heron Paper Company site into a hub of employment, shopping, business and tourism.  In the coming months, a land use application to rezone the industrial area to allow for this mix of uses is scheduled to go before the Oregon City Planning and City Commissions.  Look for additional information on effective ways to make public comments in future blog posts.



Rediscover the Falls!


Some 15 million years ago a series of volcanic eruptions spewed the largest rivers of molten lava ever seen on earth across the Pacific Northwest.  Enormous flows of basalt lava poured down the Columbia River channel and into the Pacific Ocean.  The lava eventually solidified into basalt, shaping much of the Oregon we know today, including the Columbia River Gorge and Willamette Falls.


Today, more than 20,000 cubic feet of water cascades 42 feet over Willamette Falls each second.  Not nearly as tall as the more famous Multnomah Falls (627 feet), it is the largest waterfall by volume in the Pacific Northwest and second only to Niagara Falls (100,000 cfs) in all of North America.  The Falls’ horseshoe shape spans 1,700 feet across the river from the former site of the Blue Heron Paper Mill to the West Linn Paper Company.


For centuries, the Falls have served as a focal point of culture, community and industry.  Now you can rediscover this Oregon treasure.  For a front seat view of Willamette Falls, call 503-722-3789 or to add your name to a future public tour of the former Blue Heron Paper Mill site.







Latest Community Conversation Presentation Now Available Online

Willamette Falls Legacy Project staff are continuing to meet with local organizations, businesses, and stakeholder groups. Some of these are brand new to the project and we get to see their first reactions when they realize the potential onsite, while others have been with us from the beginning and are digging into the weeds of details. We are so grateful and humbled by the support and enthusiasm we see from the general public and core value stakeholders. Many have asked for a link to the recent community conversation presentation document.  Feel free to click on the link below to review and share with others.

 click on the photo to download the presentation


Hundreds Converge to Celebrate the Willamette Falls Legacy Project

Last Thursday, approximately 300 residents from across the region gathered at Keen Headquarters in Portland to celebrate the vision and spread the word about this historic opportunity.  A good time was had by all, as participants posed for pictures in front of a life-sized backdrop of the falls, viewed and entered a raffle for photos of the falls by Mark Gamba, previewed the vision and master plan, and enjoyed refreshments from Nicholas Restaurant, A to Z Wineworks and Ecliptic Brewing.  Elected officials thanked those in attendance for their support and toasted to continued success.  Nearly 100 new Community Champions pledged to help make the vision a reality.


Were you unable to attend the celebration?  There are still many ways to show your support for the Legacy Project.  Beginning on April 21, a land use application to help implement the vision by rezoning the industrial area to allow a mix of uses will go before the Oregon City Planning Commission.  You can help by giving verbal or written testimony in support of the Framework Master Plan.  For more information, contact Kelly Moosbrugger at If you have already signed up as a champion, look for an informational email from us in the coming weeks on effective ways to testify.




Celebrate Your Success on March 6

Community response to the Willamette Falls Legacy Project has been overwhelming!  Over the past nine months, you and thousands of Oregonians have come together to create a future vision and master plan for this amazing place.  Celebrate your success and help make the vision a reality!  Bring your friends and family on Thursday, March 6th from 5:30 to 8 p.m. in the Keen Great Room for a celebration of the Willamette Falls Legacy Project.


Stay engaged to help make the vision a reality!

A land use application for the Framework Master Plan to help implement the vision by rezoning the industrial area to allow a mix of uses will go before the Oregon City Planning Commission beginning on April 21, 2014.  The Master Plan outlines how development will generally occur, identify key areas for open space and development, and re-establish the Main Street grid and connections for people to view majestic Willamette Falls.  You can help implement the vision by giving verbal or written testimony during the public hearings process.  For more information, contact Kelly Moosbrugger at

You may be aware that several developers have made offers to purchase the Blue Heron property, including the most recent $2.8 million bid from California-based Shopoff Group.  You can read about the details of that offer in an article from the Oregonian here and check back with us to learn about the latest developments as they unfold. As you can imagine, the complexities of the site has been a hurdle this year for prospective buyers. Regardless of the outcome of this or future proposals, approval of the vision and Master Plan is critical to breaking down some of these perceived and real barriers to development and provide the certainty developers need to consider this investment in Oregon’s future.

We are humbled by your passion to create a community supported vision for this Oregon landmark and want to thank you for your contributions to rediscovering this cultural and scenic treasure.  Bring your friends and family on Thursday, March 6th from 5:30 to 8 p.m. in the Keen Great Room for a celebration of the Willamette Falls Legacy Project:

  • Join the Wall of Champions – first 100 Champions get a commemorative pin!
  • Pose in front of a life-sized backdrop of the Falls
  • Be inspired by the Willamette Falls art show and raffle
  • Preview the vision and master plan
  • Enjoy Lebanese appetizers from Nicholas Restaurant
  • Toast the Falls with drinks donated by A to Z Wineworks and Ecliptic Brewing
  • Explore other First Thursday events throughout the Pearl District

Can’t make it to the celebration?  Show your support by sharing news on social media, writing a letter of support, distributing flyers or volunteering to lead tours.  Sign up to be a Community Champion today!


Sign up Today to Attend the March 6 Celebration Event


Celebrate the legacy and help realize the vision for an Oregon landmark.

Willamette Falls is one of the nation's most beautiful and historic natural wonders - yet for more than 150 years it has been hidden from view. Thanks to a growing community of supporters, Oregonians are on the brink of rediscovering Willamette Falls. But it won't happen without you.

Snow got best of the Willamette Falls Legacy Project last month but there’s good news: The celebration is rescheduled  for Thursday, March 6. Same time, same place, same concept. Please reserve your spot to let us know that you’re still available to celebrate this Oregon landmark, help move the project to the next phase, and enjoy art, food and drinks.

Celebrate the Falls, see the vision and bring your friends to this First Thursday event.Together, we're making Oregon history.

  • Join the Wall of Champions - first 100 Champions get a commemorative pin!
  • Get inspired by a Willamette Falls art show and raffle
  • Preview the vision and master plan
  • Enjoy Lebanese appetizers from Nicholas Restaurant
  • Toast the Falls with drinks donated by A to Z Wineworks and Ecliptic Brewing
  • Pose in front of a life-sized backdrop of the Falls
  • Explore other First Thursday events throughout the Pearl District

 Special thanks to KEEN Footwear for their outstanding gathering space

Share this event on Facebook and Twitter

We hope you can make it!

Willamette Falls Legacy Project



Celebrate an Oregon Treasure!

For the first time in 150 years, Oregonians have the opportunity to rediscover a cultural and scenic treasure.  Nestled in historic downtown Oregon City, Willamette Falls is the 2nd largest waterfall in North America.  Over the past eight months, an ever-growing community of supporters has created a future vision for the former Blue Heron Paper Company site.  The Willamette Falls Legacy Project will transform this place of historic significance into a statewide destination, creating public access to the Falls and reinvigorating Oregon City’s downtown as a regional hub of employment, shopping, business, tourism and housing.


As of today, we have over 220 people RSVP'd to attend the celebration party- sign up today to join your friends and colleagues to maintain momentum and let your state and regional elected officials and future funders know that public access to the falls is a statewide priority. 


Ed Murphy- all rights reserved

We need you to make the vision a reality!  Bring your friends and family on Thursday, February 6 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. in the KEEN Great Room for a celebration of the Willamette Falls Legacy Project:

  • Speak with local, regional and state representatives about this once in a generation opportunity
  •  See the vision for this Oregon landmark
  •  Become a Community Champion to pledge your support
  •  Take in the First Thursday Willamette Falls art show
  •  Enter  a raffle to win your own Mark Gamba photo of the Falls

 Secure your place in Oregon history today


Together, We're Making History

Since the Willamette Falls Legacy project launched in July last year, project leaders and staff have connected with more than 2,500 Oregonians through two surveys, nearly 50 community conversation discussions, and three large interactive community events. The resulting Vision and Master Plan for the Willamette Falls Legacy Project highlight the enourmous benefits the project can offer people in Oregon City and throughout the state:

  • A waterfront trail that will offer unprecedented access to connect with the river and enjoy a front-row seat to experience the great Willamette Falls.
  • An expansion of downtown through the creation of six new city blocks and an extension of the street grid that will serve as a vibrant hub of employment, shopping, business and tourism.
  • Restored habitat and increased roughness of the shoreline to re-establish native plant communities and support migratory birds and fish like salmon and lamprey.
  • Re-use of four key buildings on site plus the woolen mill foundation, which dates back to 1865, to honor of the rich cultural and industrial history of the Willamette River and Oregon City.


 Thanks to a growing community of supporters, Oregonians are on the brink of rediscovering Willamette Falls.  But it won’t happen without you. Become a Community Champion today and then join us Thursday, February 6 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. in the KEEN Great Room in Portland for a celebration. 

Also, check out the summary of Community Interactive Event #3, available here.  A full video of the presentation at the event is also available for viewing, in case you missed it.





Why come to Portland for our event on February 6th?

At this stage in our process, we've talked to thousands of you.  We've spoken to every neighborhood association in Oregon City, and we've met with dozens of regional community groups.  We are humbled by the community support so far for the Vision and Master Plan of the former Blue Heron site.

We also know there are Oregonians - even people who live just minutes away from Oregon City  - that have no idea that they are living so close to North America's second largest waterfall.  And we don't blame them, because it's been effectively cut off from the public for over 150 years!

Now that we are making plans to open up public access to the falls and redevelop the 23 acres next door, we want to spread the word!  We need widespread awareness and support for this project in order to keep the ball rolling.  We'll need support from regional and statewide elected officials, not to mention the funding to make this project happen. 

So, for those Oregonians that already know about this once in a lifetime opportunity, now is your chance to be an ambassador and show your support outside of your neighborhood.  We want to see your smiling faces at the celebration on February 6th.  Now is our chance to tell the entire region about our incredible asset - Willamette Falls!  Click here to join the 100 people who have already RSVP'd today (apologies for bad link - the problem has been fixed)!


Mark your calendar for February 6th

Bringing the vision to reality – join us February 6 to celebrate the Willamette Falls Legacy Project Vision and Master Plan!

Some said it couldn’t be done, but with your help, we did it!  Together, in literally thousands of ways, we developed a cohesive future vision for a vibrant Willamette Falls district that:

  • Creates economic opportunity, employment and tourism
  • Connects future generations to the falls, our heritage and the future
  • Protects and enhances unique and treasured biological assets

Your guidance has helped the project partners develop a future vision for the site that integrates all four core values of public access, economic redevelopment, healthy habitat, and historic and cultural interpretation.

Celebrate the results of your work February 6 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the KEEN Great Room in Portland at 515 NW 13th Avenue.  Our state and region will need your creativity and commitment to bring the vision to reality. Bring your friends, kids and coworkers. See the vision, take in a Willamette Falls art show, and enjoy food and drinks at this First Thursday celebration.  Together, we are making Oregon history.

What you can do to help realize the vision?  Join the Wall of Champions and commit to creating a national legacy.  Can’t make the celebration? Sign up to be a Community Champion today!