The future Trolley Trail is located within a former Portland Traction Co. streetcar line right-of-way. The streetcar service operated between Portland and Oregon City from 1893 until 1958. Freight service continued until 1968, when rail service was abandoned completely. Since that time, citizens and public officials have advocated to preserve the rightof- way for a future recreational and/or commuter trail.
Before the Trolley Line
Before the streetcar line was built, the towns and communities surrounding the corridor were somewhat isolated, rough and remote. Lots were large and the area had very few roads, all of which were dirt. Most travel was by foot or horse-drawn wagon. In general, people relied on the Willamette River to get to the larger cities of Portland and Oregon City.
Oak Grove Station
The remote small-town character of the area changed once the streetcar line was built. The streetcar line ran from downtown Portland to Oregon City, and the first car ran on the tracks on February 16, 1893.
After the rail line was built, development along the corridor flourished. Oak Grove and Jennings Lodge both expanded to include more residences, public buildings and stores. Houses adjacent to the corridor were built with their porches facing the rail. In the late 1890s, typical homes surrounding the streetcar were simple wood-frame buildings commonly referred to as Vernacular or Western Farmhouse styles. The homes built around 1900 typify newer American styles, such as the Craftsman-Bungalow, which was possibly the most popular architectural style through the 1920s (Clackamas County Cultural Resource Inventory, 1992). Examples of both the older farmhouse and Craftsman-Bungalow style houses still exist along the streetcar corridor today.
The Trolley Trail Today
Metro and the North Clackamas Parks and Recreation District (NCPRD), with strong support from the local community, purchased the streetcar line right-of-way in December 2001 from the Union Pacific Railroad Co. The right-of-way is about 40 feet wide and extends for about six miles from the Jefferson Street Boat Ramp in Milwaukie to the intersection of S.E. Abernethy and Glen Echo Ave in Gladstone. The right-of-way is generally between S.E. McLoughlin Boulevard to the east and River Road to the west and traverses residential and commercial development. Portland General Electric maintains an easement for its overhead power lines, as well as access for its maintenance trucks throughout the trail right-of-way. NCPRD owns the corridor and will be responsible for operations and maintenance of the trail when complete.
The future Trolley Trail will connect downtown Milwaukie and Gladstone and the neighborhoods between them. The handicap-accessible trail will serve as an alternative transportation choice for recreational and commuter uses including walking, hiking, biking and connections to shopping, schools and work. The Trolley Trail will serve as the western portion of a 20-mile regional loop trail (connecting with the Springwater Corridor and the I-205 trails).
Metro and NCPRD completed a Master Plan for the trail in January 2004. The plan was adopted by the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners and the Metro Council in March 2004.
The Future Trolley Trail
NCPRD and Clackamas County began the design and engineering for the trail in summer 2006. Surveyors collected data about the trail corridor and prepared maps in preparation for the design work. The firm of Harper Houf Peterson Righellis Inc. (HHPR) has been hired to manage the design. During design, environmental consultants will be collecting information related to wetlands, streams and other aspects of the natural environment along the trail.
The community has been involved in the design process through open houses, meetings with adjacent landowners and project mailings. Staff expects to continue meeting one-on-one with neighbors, businesses and other interested parties.
Construction of the trail should begin in early 2011, with completion in the fall or winter of 2011. Currently NCPRD has funding to complete the design, engineering and construction of six miles of the trail.
Timeline of Streetcar Ownership: 1891-present
1891: Oregon City and Southern Railway, a subsidiary of East Side Railway Company, purchases right-of-way and constructs railroad.
1893: Passenger service begins February 16. Trip time length from East Portland to Oregon City is one hour.
1901: Portland City and Oregon Railway Company (PCOR Co.) takes over East Side Railway.
1903: PCOR Co. reorganized to form Oregon Water Power and Railway. Off-street line is built (present Springwater-OMSI corridor), reducing East Portland- Oregon City trip to 35 minutes.
1906: Rail line transferred to the Portland Railway, Light and Power Company (PRL&P).
1924: PRL&P changes its name to Portland Electric Power Company (PEPCO).
1930: Portland General Electric (PGE) formed to take over PEPCO’s electric operations, including streetcars. Portland Traction Company (PTC) formed to operate the railways as a subsidiary of PGE.
1946: Portland Transit Company formed to acquire interurban rail properties of PEPCO, including PTC.
1958: Passenger service ends on January 25.
1962: Portland Transit sells the interurban lines to Southern Pacific and Union Pacific Railroads for freight operation.
1968: Rail service is abandoned completely. Most rails and ties removed from right-of-way.
1969 - present: Various studies and campaigns are undertaken to convert the right-of-way to a trail or light rail line.
2001: Metro and North Clackamas Parks & Recreation District purchase the right-of-way for conversion into a multi-use trail.
2004: (Spring) Trolley Trail Master Plan adopted
2005: Metro transfers ownership to North Clackamas Parks & Recreation District
2006: (Summer) Surveying in preparation for final design
2006: (Fall) First Public Open House Trolley Trail conceptual design
2006/2007: (Winter/Spring) Develop design, meet with neighbors businesses and other interested parties
2007: (Summer/Fall) Final Public Open House
2007: (Spring/Summer) Second Public Open House
2011: Construction of the Trolley Trail should begin
To capture the character of the streetcar during its years of operation, this subsection describes the stations and relays stories shared by residents who rode the trolley. Station details and personal stories and memories were collected during the May 15, 2002 Trolley Tales event. Station details were also collected through historic photographs and written text. The determination of the historic trolley station locations is limited by our interpretation of historic hand-drawn maps and the accuracy of resident accounts.
The number of stations and their names underwent minor changes throughout the operating years of the streetcar. The original stations got their names in one of two ways. The names were either descriptive of the natural surroundings or they were provided by the owners of the land surrounding the corridor shows the stations as they existed in 1938. Below, each of the stations are described from north to south. Available photographs collected by the team are included.
Milwaukie Station was located near what is now Vic's Tavern on the west side of McLoughlin Boulevard. This station took the name of the city it served, and in 1915, the station consisted of a covered waiting platform with benches. The station was in front of an American Express Company office and an ice cream and soda shop.
Island Station, the next stop, was located just north of what is now the Yes! I Do Bridal store at the intersection of 22nd Avenue and McLoughlin Boulevard. This station took its name from the nearby Rock Island in the Willamette River, known as Elk Rock Island today. In 1933, the station consisted of a small freestanding wooden shelter.
Earlier photos of Island Station show it next to a muddy road, possibly an early River Road, with a sign for an Open Air Sanitarium.
Lakewood Station was located near Kellogg Lake. From Island Station, the streetcar traveled up a hill, past the lake, and through a deep stand of first. The station was appropriately named after these natural features. A 1915 picture shows trolley cars within the vicinity of the station.
Evergreen Station was the next stop on the line. It was also named for its surroundings. This static was located at the northwest comer of the intersection of the streetcar line with Park A venue. It is fondly remembered by local residents who used to buy pieces of penny candy at the small store adjacent to the station. Others re member that to get to the station from the east one had tc cross a wooden bridge over a small gully. The gully was filled in during the construction of the "Super Highway," known today as McLoughlin Boulevard.
Silver Springs Station is the next station continuing south. It was named for a spring in the area. Residents who used to ride the trolley remember that the station was located at the intersection of the corridor and what is now Silver Springs Road.
Torbank Station was located approximately where Torbank Road currently meets the trail right-of-way. The station was named by the wife of Joseph J. Price. Her husband gave land for the station.
Courmey Station was located at the southwest corner of the intersection of Arista Drive with North Avenue. North Avenue is now called Courtney Road. Courtney Station was named for an
Irish chicken farmer, although the land previously belonged to the Broetje family and was used as a nursery.
Saint Theresa was located on the east side of Arista Drive about halfway between Courtney Road and Oak Grove Boulevard. It was named for Sister Theresa who established "The Little Flower" sanitarium at this location. A large evergreen hedge near the intersection of Arista Drive and Pine A venue reportedly marks the location of the sanitarium and the station.
Oak Grove Station was located in the community of Oak Grove at the comer of Oak Grove Boulevard and Arista Drive. Oak Grove offered stores, a post office, and gathering places clustered along Oak Grove Boulevard (called Central Avenue until around 1913). The station's stop and ticket office were once located in the general store, which now houses the Oak Grove Bar and Grill.
Rupert Station was on more sparsely developed land and was reportedly located just after the corridor turns to the east, near present day Third Avenue.
Risley Station was the next stop and its name recognizes one of the more prominent families in the area. The station was a small shelter located at the northwest comer of the intersection of the corridor with Swain Avenue. Today members of the Risley family continue to live in the area around the corridor.
Concord and Vineyard Stations were the next two stops. It is unclear how either station received its name. Both stations were on land that once belonged to the Andrew's family. Concord Station was reportedly located at the northwest corner of where Concord Road now intersects with Arista Drive. The station may have been named after Concord, Massachusetts or for Concord grapes that early pioneers tried to grow in the area.
Naef Station was also named after a prominent family. Similar to the Risley family, members of Naef family still live in the area.
Roethe Station, the next stop, was located approximately at the intersection of the corridor and Roethe Road. Just past Roethe Road was Ashdale Station. The station was located approximately at the intersection of current Boardman Avenue with the trolley corridor.
Jennings Lodge Station was named for the Jennings family. The station was located near the present day intersection of the trolley corridor and McLoughlin Boulevard. This stop offered commercial stores, a post office and meeting places. It was also a very popular destination for youth and teenagers. Long-time residents recall getting off the trolley at this stop and walking north to Roake's Hot Dogs.
Meldrum Station was named for the family that previously owned the land. The station was located along Abernethy Lane.
Fern Ridge was the last station in the study area and was located just north of present day Glen Echo Avenue.
Thank you to PSU Masters of Urban and Regional Planning students Jennifer Bell, Jennifer Hughes, Michelle Healy, Beth Park and Stacy Burnett for much of the background information. (June 2002)
Photos courtesy Richard Thompson.