With a population of 435 people hidden into the dense Southern Oregon forests, Butte Falls isn’t usually the first town that comes to mind when one mentions businesses in Jackson County. However, the namesake falls isn’t the only source of interest in the town—local businesses and plans for a future land acquisition are keeping the town officials busy. Ginger Creek, a tributary of Big Butte Creek, was rerouted in the early 1900’s to create a reservoir for the mill. Today Ginger Springs is more than just a mountain watershed—as of 2014, Cascade Mountain Spring Water has been receiving national acclaim for their pristine drinking water. The town of Butte Falls has also been making plans to acquire a piece of land: the 391-acre Weyerhaeuser property. Among a railcar renovation and other intriguing prospects, Butte Falls is entering an exciting future.
Though the Butte Falls school system is actually the town’s largest employer, Cascade Mountain Spring Water’s bottling plant is growing each year. The company—set to go public on the stock market in the near future—deserves recognition for their nationally distributed spring water, elegantly bottled in recyclable glass. The business was started by a Butte Falls family, who gained access to Ginger Springs, located at the base of Mt. McLoughlin. Because of the volcanic rock in the Cascade mountain range, the water is naturally filtered, leaving what the company calls a “perfectly balanced pH—pHerfect.” While entirely based out of Butte Falls, e-commerce has allowed Cascade Mountain Spring Water to extend their distribution online, as well as in local markets across the West Coast. According to Butte Falls’ mayor, Linda Spencer, the company has “some of the purest water in the United States.”
When it comes to the Weyerhaeuser property, Butte Falls is currently hoping to purchase the 391-acre section of land that wraps around the town—the metaphorical “donut.” With the hopeful acquisition, Butte Falls will have far more room to implement their current plans, which include the management of land for fire defense, a town park by the falls, and an educational program for the school. With an eye to improve fire resiliency, Butte Falls hopes to turn a section of the property into a land lab. The school can educate students on fire resistance, and in the process, make Butte Falls’ borders stronger against wildfires. With the park by the falls, the town hopes to create another place for the community to come together and enjoy the vivid beauty of its own backyard.
On top of all of this, Butte Falls is also in the process of restoring a railcar which will eventually be brought to the town in partnership with the Southern Oregon Railway Historical Society. The Medco #4 engine is a Willamette Iron and Steel Works 70-ton locomotive built in 1925 for the Owen-Oregon Lumber Company, which later became the Medford Corporation (Medco). Currently, the engine is nearing a complete restoration, so Butte Falls hopes to display the train as a reference to the town’s distinct history with the railroad and the Medco logging company.
Though the train engine and the “donut acquisition” are not yet set in stone, Butte Falls’ vision for the future will follow the goal of keeping the town active among the list of Southern Oregon attractions. From the Cascade Mountain Spring Water’s successes, to the hopeful land resource for the town, the near future will be anything but sleepy for Butte Falls.
Cascade Mountain Spring Water. (2019). Company Website: http://www.drinkcascade.com/
LaLande, Jeff. (2018). “Butte Falls.” The Oregon Encyclopedia. Website: https://oregonencyclopedia.org/articles/butte_falls/#.XDUvgFxKiUk
Southern Oregon Guide. (2019). “Jackson County Waterfalls in Southern Oregon.” SouthernOregon.com. Website: http://www.southernoregon.com/waterfalls/jackson.html