Portland Cable Railway, circa 1890

Here we see the Portland Cable Railway Co. trestle that ran through Portland Heights. In a previous post, we saw the trestle from a different angle. This image is from circa 1890.

Portland Heights cable railway, circa 1890 : A2004-002.6867

Portland Heights cable railway, circa 1890 : A2004-002.6867


View this image in Efiles by clicking here.

21 thoughts on “Portland Cable Railway, circa 1890

  1. Could someone give me an idea exactly where this was comparing location to landmarks, streets, etc of today?

  2. I wonder if all the people on the trestle are waiting for the cable car or are they using the trestle as street to get up and down the hill or both? Not everyone could afford the fares in those days.

  3. I think I looked this up in one of my books and if I remember correctly it was on 18th between Clay and Jackson.

  4. Laurel: The house in the upper right corner of the photo, the one that looks somewhat like a castle, is still there, on SW Cable St. So rightly named.

  5. You can see the utility poles and wires that follow SW Montgomery up the hill parallel to the cable trestle. Montgomery is still there which is a good reference to where the trestle used to be.

  6. Thanks for the info on its location, Dan. I wasn’t quite sure. The link that MF posted of the ruins reminds me of a similar ruin that I remember being in Macleay Park. But maybe my memory is going faulty.

  7. Tracy J. Prince had an informative article about Cable Avenue and the trestle published in the Oregonian a few years ago. It’s worth a read.

  8. This might be speculation but….. The people seemed to be more or less centrally located on the right side trestle and are positioned as though they are looking at something going on in the ravine.. Perhaps maybe a fire just to the left of the Alice Druhot house. It looks like smoke rising up the ravine.

  9. LMH makes an inspired guess! In the 1901 Sanborn map there is a fish packing facility right about where they are looking; it is gone in the 1909 map. There IS a smokehouse immediately to the north of the fish packing house, but in 1901 it is labeled ‘not used.’ In 1890 it could be the source of the smoke, and the crowd may be unrelated. Time to dig in the Oregonian archives and look for articles about a fish packer burning…

  10. The trestle started at 18th & Mill Street, spanned the canyon and met solid ground at 18th and Jackson. 18th at that time was known as Chapman Street. As for the people on the trestle, between 1888 and 1890, the trestle had no tracks because the Portland Cable Railway Company ran out of money and didn’t install the tracks until 1890. People often used the trestle to get to and from the top of the hill.

  11. WL makes a good point there. I guess I have looked at too many foggy, hazy, smoggy, smokey old pictures of Portland that I didn’t think twice about it. It could be just the normal smoke from a smokehouse or could be smoke from a building on fire. On to the Oregonian archives.

  12. So far, all I could dig up was an 1893 article about the sewer line to Portland Heights being dug on the west side of the trestle. Perhaps they are watching that? But that article is too late if there are no tracks on the trestle, as it appears.

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