Morrison Bridge, Circa 1900

Today’s Morrison Bridge, completed in 1958, is actually the third Portland bridge to carry that name. The bridge shown here, a swing span bridge built in 1887, was Portland’s first bridge over the Willamette River and the longest west of the Mississippi River. The second Morrison Bridge, also a swing span, was completed in 1905. At that time it actually terminated on the west side at Morrison Street, as shown here (the present bridge lands between Alder and Washington). At right is the once-elegant New Esmond Hotel of 1889, and the 1887 Jennings Furniture Building on the left.

(City of Portland Archives)

10 thoughts on “Morrison Bridge, Circa 1900

  1. Are you sure this is the 1905 bridge? It is made of wood, and I am pretty sure the second Morrison bridge was made of steel or iron.

  2. You’re right. The photo was dated “circa 1900” but I thought it was steel (girders look like steel but I see now that the deck is wood) so I assumed the date was wrong and this was the new bridge. I’m changing the description. Thanks Carter!

  3. It difficult for me to tell based on the photo if the bridge span (apart from the deck) is wood or iron and steel. Someone with better eyes than I can probably tell.

    The reason I bring it up is that the deck of the second bridge was also constructed of timber and planks (according to “Bridges of Portland), but the spans were constructed of steel and iron.

    The first Morrison (Willamette) bridge had fixed spans of timber and the swing span was wrought iron.

  4. Alright, now that I view the picture on a monitor with better resolution and having accessed my reference books, I can say with fair certainty that Carter is correct in his assessment that this bridge is the first Morrison bridge.

    Note that the span trusses appear to be either wood or solid steel bars and the pedestrian railing is of wood. The second Morrison bridges’ trusses were more like I-beams with criss-crossing short metal support struts running their length and the pedestrian railing was of highly detailed metal (either cast-iron or steel).

    The reference I used for this comment and my previous comment was Ray Bottenburg’s “Bridges of Portland.”

  5. Pingback: January 16, 1905: Second Morrison Bridge Opens to the Public

  6. Pingback: January 16, 1905: Second Morrison Bridge Opens to the Public in Portland Oregon | The Hive Daily – Raw. Unfiltered. Fearless

  7. I dug in and found the big article in the Morning Oregonian, April 7, 1887, p 2: the Willamette Iron Bridge Company constructed the “Morrison-street bridge” in a little over five months. It united the cities of Portland and East Portland, and opened for toll crossings in April 1887. Good detailed history of East Portland in this article.

  8. thank you for the information. It helpful with my research. Sadie burgess (chapman elementary 3grade)

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