Former lumber mill site Oregon's newest state park

PRAIRE CITY, Ore. - The site of a former lumber mill in Eastern Oregon is the state's eighth new state park since 2004.

Bates State Park opens Sept. 20 with a special ceremony from 10 a.m. to noon.

The park is about a 6 hour drive from Eugene and a 3 hour drive from Boise, Idaho. {>}{>}{>} Map

Day use entry to the park is free.

The park opens with 28 sites in a primitive campground designed for tents and self-contained RVs. Potable water is available.

A six-site hiker/biker camp also opens for riders cycling the popular TransAmerica Bicycle trail.

The day-use area has a picnic shelter, vault toilet and more than three miles of hiking trails.

The first-come, first-served campground, as well as the rest of the park, will be open May-October (depending on the weather).

Bates State Park is the site of a former lumber mill that operated for nearly 60 years. The 131-acre property, nestled along the Middle Fork of the John Day River, sits adjacent to the former Bates company townsite, home to about 400 families at its peak.
By 1975, when a new mill was built in nearby John Day, the Bates mill was shut down and the town gradually disappeared.

The mill pond, the last vestige of that era, remains a central feature of the park.

A local nonprofit group, The Friends of Bates State Park, worked behind the scenes for many years, advocating for the property's preservation as a state park.

Oregon's state parks department purchased the property from Grant County for $407,000 in 2008 using lottery funds designated for property acquisition, and has so far spent about $900,000 to open the park. Park development is funded by dedicated lottery and the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund through a $275,000 matching grant.

The site has also benefited from a $119,000 grant from the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board to the North Fork John Day Watershed Council. The grant helped fund the first phase of restoration work on the floodplain near the confluence of Bridge Creek and the Middle Fork of the John Day River. Substantial work to restore native plants is already planned for this fall, and will involve planting more than 4,000 trees and shrubs. The department is not funded by state taxes.

More information on the park is available by phone (541-932-4453, or toll-free 1-800-551-6949) and online.

Oregon has opened the following new state parks since 2004:

  • Stub Stewart Memorial State Park (2004) -- northwest of Portland, near Banks and Vernonia
  • Sunset Beach State Recreation Site (2005) -- south of Astoria
  • Fort Yamhill State Heritage Area (2006) -- near Grand Ronde, northwest of Salem
  • Thompson's Mills State Heritage Site (2007) -- south of Albany, near Shedd
  • Crissey Field State Recreation Site (2008) -- south of Bandon, near Oregon/California border
  • Iwetemlaykin State Heritage Area (2009) -- Joseph
  • Beaver Creek State Natural Area (2010) -- south of Newport


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