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Water Works Excavation - A Delicate Operation

Editors Note: Mill District resident Doug Verdier has been documenting the digging taking place during late July as he monitors the progress of the excavation phase of the Water Works project. Below is a photo essay of some recent activity.

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Taken from West River Parkway side of the Columbia Mill. Digging to locate a railroad scale that was buried there years ago, and to locate depth of foundation wall. People in photo are the contractor and archaeologists who are overseeing project. They found the scale! It is said to be about 50 feet long and was used to weigh rail cars when loaded with grain. Not certain what will be done regarding the scale at this point. It’s down pretty deep.

Some of the debris excavated from around the Columbia building foundation. A lot of junk and debris was dumped there at one time.

Digging to locate base of foundation of Columbia building on West River Parkway side.

Wide shot of excavation of Columbia foundation. RiverWest is in the background.

Exterior wall of Columbia structure showing temporary stabilization.

Taken July 25, 2019 - Excavating interior of Columbia Mill wall and foundation.

Taken July 25, 2019 - Excavating interior of Columbia Mill building. Fuji Ya can be seen in background.

Closer shot of excavation showing Columbia Mill exterior wall and Fuji Ya exterior wall.

Shot of work site from S 1st Street.

Following are additional photos of excavation of Columbia Mill interior taken July 26. Workers are removing old tires and brick that were placed in window openings of the building when the foundation was filled to prevent collapse of the wall. 


Clearing old tires and debris (mostly dirt and old brick) from window openings must be done by hand to prevent damage to remaining structure.

Archeologist in foreground monitoring excavation.

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