||The creation of the
MAX light rail network, the Portland
the WES commuter rail line have
enabled the residents of the Portland metropolitan area to ponder their
streetcar and interurban past. Much of that past is chronicled in the book
"Fares, Please! -- Those Portland Trolley Years" by the
late John T. Labbe.
There are still many parts of
the Portland metropolitan area that today host light rail, streetcar,
excursion or freight trains over portions of right-of-way found in Mr.
Labbe's book. These include:
- The original TriMet
MAX line to Gresham covers the right-of-way of the
Mount Hood Railway & Power Co.
interurban line between NE 99th Avenue and Burnside Streets in Portland,
to the Cleveland Avenue terminal in Gresham. This line once ran between
the city's Montavilla neighborhood all the way to Bull Run, east of
Sandy. Although the stretch west of Ruby Junction was pulled up in the
late 1920s, the line east of there still saw interurban service as late
as the 1950s. Diesel freight service continued on this portion into
Gresham until the 1980s, when it was converted into the MAX
right-of-way. The City of Gresham is constructing a multi-use recreational
path alongside this line from the Rockwood neighborhood into downtown
- The Ruby Junction light
rail yard in Gresham includes a portion of the right-of-way for the
Troutdale branch of the Portland Railway Light
and Power Co., which also operated the Cazadero line to Estacada,
much of which is now the popular Springwater Trail recreational path.
Portions of this line, which saw its last passenger service in 1927,
were still in service as late as the 1980s with diesel freight service
operated by the East Portland Traction Co.
This line was also used to deliver the first MAX
cars to Ruby Junction in the early 1980s. The City of Gresham has converted portions of the old right-of-way into a recreational trail
that connects with the Springwater Trail at the site of the old
Linneman Junction station.
- The west side of the MAX
Blue Line, from downtown Beaverton to downtown Hillsboro, follows the
right-of-way of the Forest Grove line of the Oregon
Electric interurban, which was part of the Spokane, Portland
& Seattle family. The opening of MAX
service on this line in 1998 brought passenger service to Beaverton
and Hillsboro for the first time since 1933.
MAX trackage on First Avenue from Glisan to Morrison Streets
in downtown Portland follows the alignment of the city's original streetcar
route, the 1872 Portland Street Railway Co.
- Portions of the downtown MAX
route on Morrison and Yamhill Streets also include former
streetcar paths. Most of the downtown streetcar trackage was built as
narrow gauge (42"), with some later lines and the electric interurban
routes being built to standard gauge (56.5").
- The MAX
right-of-way up Jefferson Street and Canyon Road between the Goose Hollow
neighborhood and the Robertson Tunnels follows that of the Portland
Cable Railway Co., the first of the city's short-lived cable
- The MAX
tracks across the Steel Bridge and up Holladay Street through the Lloyd
District follow the right-of-way of the city's first electric streetcar
line -- the Willamette Bridge Railway Co.
of 1889. A portion of the MAX line
along Interstate Avenue also retraces one of this company's first electric
- Portions of the
Portland Streetcar route include past
city streetcar rights-of-way on 11th Avenue and on Northrup Street,
while its 10th Avenue trackage traces part of the former path of the
Oregon Electric line between Portland
- The Willamette
Shore Trolley excursion line between Portland and Lake Oswego
follows the former Jefferson Street branch of the Southern Pacific Railroad,
which operated Red Electric interurbans
on the route from 1915 to 1929. One of the old streetcars that operated
on this route, #813, was a 1930s-vintage Brill Master Unit streamlined
car built for Portland's 42" gauge Broadway streetcar line. After
leaving this service in 1950, it was converted to standard gauge and
used on the interurban service to Bellrose and Oregon City until 1958.
- A section of the old SP right-of-way,
from SW Sheridan to Lowell, is now part of the Portland
Streetcar network, and
transit planners would like to eventually extend the route all the way
to Lake Oswego.
Pacific Railroad freight trains between Portland and Milwaukie
follow the route of the Portland & Oregon
City Railway, which dates back to the early
1900s. This line, in 1958, hosted the last streetcar or
interurban service in the Portland area until the opening of MAX
in 1986. An extension of the Springwater Trail, paralleling this route
between the city's Sellwood neighborhood and OMSI, opened in 2002.
- Another trail segment
opened in November 2006 along the old Portland
Railway Light and Power Co. right-of-way
where it crosses Johnson Creek, McLoughlin Blvd. and the Union Pacific
(ex-SP) Portland-Eugene main line. The "Three Bridges" project
included new overpasses built around the old railroad abutments.
- The former SP portions of
the new Westside Express Service
or WES route, from Beaverton to
Tigard, were part of the extensive Red Electric
interurban network that operated from 1915 to 1929. The former BN portions,
from Tigard to Wilsonville, were part of the Oregon Electric interurban
system that operated until 1933.
- The new MAX Orange Line between downtown Portland and the Lake Grove district of Milwaukie includes portions of both the old Portland streetcar system and the former Portland & Oregon
City Railway. The ROW along SE 17th Avenue passes the site of the old Center Street streetcar shops, while the segment between SE River Road and SE Park Avenue in Milwaukie is part of the old Oregon City interurban line This segment also includes the Trolley Trail, a multi-use trail that follows the old interurban ROW from Milwaukie to Gladstone.