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Celebrating its Yoder roots

The Yoder Mill is turning 125 years old this month and will celebrate Saturday with a host of events


Shingle sawing before 1915: J.S. Yoder, the mill's founder and David Yoder's anscestor, is on the far right. The Yoder Mill turns 125 this month and plans are to celebrate with a party on Saturday.

There has been a mill at the current location, 32032 S. Kropf Road, and owned by the Yoder family since 1889. The mill has burned three times – once around the turn of the century, in 1915 and 1934. The blacksmith’s shop, built around the turn of the century, is the oldest original building still standing on the site.

Jonathan Samuel Yoder came from Missouri in 1889 and hauled the mill parts over on the train. The mill still uses some of the original parts. In the first couple of years, the mill provided lumber for the Evergreen School and Smyrna Church.

In the early days, the mill was also used for grain and bricks for local families, according to a 1997 article in the Woodburn Independent.

Since then, “We sort of keep things pretty much within the family,” as Russell Yoder told the Oregonian in 1989.

David Yoder, the youngest in his family, runs the mill now – the fourth generation Yoder to run the mill. His father Russell and uncle Nolan ran the mill before him and David said it hasn’t changed much since their day. He started helping out at the mill in 1993, but before that he spent most of his days out logging with his father.

Lowell Boyce, a current employee at the mill, came in February 1976 when he was 19 and has worked there for 37 years. He had come to see a steam engine, which ran the mill up until the ‘50s. Since being hired, he’s “here every day” according to Yoder.

Lowell remembers the days he timed his hours with his chainsaw – each chain lasted about half an hour.

Yoder, his wife Bernadette, and Boyce are busy preparing for the anniversary celebration. Yoder said he’s excited to see how many people come, and said most people don’t realize what it looks like inside.




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