West Side Flood Waters, 1948

The spring flood of 1948 affected most of the properties east of SW Moody Avenue near the Ross Island Bridge. This area is now the heart of the South Waterfront district.

A1999-004.1106 flood waters west side near Ross Island Bridge 1948(City of Portland Archives)

10 thoughts on “West Side Flood Waters, 1948

  1. I’d like to have one of the railroad historians here comment on what looks like an abandoned railroad right of way running diagonally from the lower left corner of the picture. Which railroad was that?

  2. @Carter The SP Red Electric Beaverton line which ran up 4th until it reached private right of way shown here.
    The Willamette River was not itself actually in flood as the high waters in main stem of the Columbia River has affected the tidal basin of the Willamette as shown here. By the time you reached Oregon City the ’48 flood was a non event. .

  3. RE the railroad right of way, I can see houses/bldgs in the 1948 photo that are extant today, so it looks like the right of way is/was under I-5, right where the freeway severs Kelly. Houses on the north side of Hamilton between Corbett and Kelly remain, also “The New Group” bldg at 4540 SW Kelly Ave.

  4. Actually, the right of way we can see is the Oregon Electric Railway line to the Willamette Valley. The route was later taken over by I-5 and Multnomah Blvd. The S&P Beaverton line ran in the right of way which had already been converted to Barbur Blvd by the time of this photo.

  5. Doug is right about this being the OE, SP came north down what is now Barbur to Fourth and straight through to Union Station.

  6. Some trivia: Much of this area was filled in using dirt excavated from I-405 so it’s less likely you’d see flooding like this during a similar event today. Unlikely, but not impossible.

  7. Think of all of the heavy metals, oils, PCBs, etc., being washed into the river from the acres of Alaska/Zidell metal and equipment scrap that used to be piled around the west end of the Ross Island Bridge.

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