The restoration of rivers in watersheds with historic mining districts has become a topic of interest during the last decade. Rivers restoration in these areas is difficult because the mines and mills can be scattered over a wide area and often small. Many have also been abandoned. This paper presents two substrate related factors that are important in the evaluation of river restoration alternatives in watersheds with significance impacts from mines and mills most of which are old and abandoned. The two factors are 1) changes in the size distribution and specific weights of the substrate, and 2) the changes in quality of the interstecial waters caused by metals associated with the tailings in the substrate. The most important impacts of tailings from mills may be on the physical characteristics of the substrate (porosity) and on the quality of the pore waters. The measurements presented in this paper do show significant variation in the porosity in gravel bed rivers and in the quality of the pore waters. Copyright ASCE 2004.