Lone Fir Cemetery, 1946

The Mt. Tabor Streetcar 652 passing the Lone Fir Cemetery. This view is looking south towards SE Morrison Street. The house in the background is still standing.

 

Mt Tabor car 652 passing Lone Fir Cemetery, 1946: A2011-007.219

Mt Tabor car 652 passing Lone Fir Cemetery, 1946: A2011-007.219

 

View this image in Efiles by clicking here.

48 thoughts on “Lone Fir Cemetery, 1946

  1. If you know where to look, there’s about 50 feet of the double tracks still visible where Belmont splits and goes up the hill towards the cemetery. Just when you get to the top of the split, before you turn left, look down and to the right, towards the apartments. I think that may be the only remnants of the old Mt. Tabor line still visible

  2. @Pat Davison: Here’s a street-view showing the remaining tracks today. They are at the intersection of Morrison and 26th Ave., and they’re where the Mt. Tabor line right-of-way left the public streets and cut across a couple blocks as it transitioned over to Belmont.

    Looking at the photo above, while I at first thought the house was the one that looks the same today in the street view, there’s one thing that doesn’t really match. From the street view you can see that the tracks clearly ran right up against the cemetery wall along this portion of Lone Fir, yet in the photo above the cars are easily visible. If they were near 26th Ave. and the house in the street-view, the cars should have been mostly behind and below the wall making only the tops visible.

    I wonder if this wasn’t actually taken further west along Morrison, in the section west of 23rd, where the cemetery and the street are nearly the same grade? There is no matching house down there today but there is a large modern condo that may have replaced a similar house.

  3. I believe Central Catholic HS was built on part of the cemetery. The graves were moved before construction began.
    When I was a junior at CC I had a summer job grooming the field and once raked up a coffin handle.

  4. @Brian: Excellent points. I no longer live in Oregon, but I used to live about a mile from this location, so this is especially interesting to me. If someone has the time and inclination, perhaps they can visit the cemetery and try to match headstones with those in the picture. That would at least determine the exact street location.

    Based on @Brian’s points, I assume he is correct, but if it turns out that the picture was taken on 26th, then that would create a whole new puzzle.

  5. Oh, maybe I can try this challenge! I love walking to Lone Fir and those tracks still in the street have had a firm grip on my imagination for several years now. The weather is nice; maybe I can get out later today. If I do, I’ll report. 🙂

  6. Here’s another angle: That big white house in the photo looked a bit far away to me, so I got a little suspicious that it was actually on Belmont. A quick search resulted in finding a house on Belmont, in between 25th and 26th that looks an awful like the one in the photo: http://goo.gl/maps/USsx3

  7. More pieces to the puzzle:
    1) @Chuck: Central Catholic HS was built on St. Mary’s Catholic Cemetery, not Lone Fir.
    2) Lone Fir was enlarged a few times.
    3) For years Lone Fir was not maintained.
    4) Based on an arial view of this area, it appears that Lone Fir (or at least the wall) was built into Morrison Street.

    Now I’m wondering if the wall was built after the tracks were removed (it appears that way). However, since the land is still higher today than it is in the vintage photo, this might indicate that the graves in that location were raised at some point.

    @Kendalchen: Looking forward to what you find. In the meantime, I found this excellent online site about Lone Fir. Lots of interesting information: http://www.friendsoflonefircemetery.org/info/

  8. Thanks, Peter. Our cross-country team used to meet before classes & we would run around the Lone Fir cemetery a couple of times. It doesn’t look like anything has changed since the mid-60s. Some very old grave stones there.

  9. Lone Fir was not maintained for years and graves spilled over the cemetery’s boundaries. In the 1920s when they extended Morrison and Stark Streets east of 20th they found many graves out of place and had to move them back into the cemetery. It was this scandal that led to public ownership of the cemetery.

  10. Brian, looks like you were right. I live a few blocks away and took this photo just now. This is looking south to Morrison at around SE 23rd.

  11. @Peter: Re: “Now I’m wondering if the wall was built after the tracks were removed”

    I doubt it. That wall looks much older than circa 1950 to me.

  12. Along the lines suggested by JD Chandler above, I found this note describing a document from 1928 in the archives at e-file:

    “East Side Commercial Club correspondence includes a proposal to take a 35 foot strip from Lone Fir Cemetery to widen East Morrison St. This strip contains the graves of many Chinese and others. Numbers of burials are noted, as are number of Chinese recently removed from cemetery and shipped to China. Also includes a copy of a legislative bill authorizing the improvement of East Morrison St through the south edge of Lone Fir Cemetery.”

    http://efiles.portlandoregon.gov/Record/13420

  13. This is such a cool picture, an old streetcar stopped at a cemetery, it’s own funeral not far ahead. I like the old Lone Fir. Enjoying all the posts.Thanks to Greg for walking there and getting a picture!

    This is from 1948, so a different time than the photo, but still interesting article.
    ============
    “Passing of Mt. Tabor Streetcars recalls Saga of Meandering Horse-Power Line

    They’re going to bury the tracks out on S. E. Belmont street, and only a memory will remain of the old Mt Tabor streetcar line which turned a wilderness into a thriving suburb.”

    “Buses to follow Street

    Since its new motor buses will stick to the paved streets, the traction company will no longer have any use for the meandering right away so long traveled by the Mt. Tabor cars, president Gordon Steel said.

    Company attorneys searched the records to determine ownership of various pieces of ground traversed by the tracks, and made this report:

    1. The stretch between S. E. 20th and 26th Avenue, where the car line adjoins Lone Fir cemetery, was deeded to the company many years ago with the proviso that title should revert to the cemetery if the tracks were abandon.

    2. The diagonal cut off between 26th Avenue end of the cemetery and 28th Avenue and Belmont is owned by the company and will be sold to anyone who wants to it.

    3. The curved section between S. E. 69th and S. E. 70th Avenue was deeded to the company as a gift for railroad purposes only and will revert to the original owner if he or his heirs can be found.”

    -caption under picture-
    “Children will wave no more to the passing motormen on the Mt. Tabor line with the advent of modern gas busses. Old streetcars, battered and weary after 40 years of service, are doomed to scrap heap. On one of the last outbound trips, No 533 comes rocking down out of the cut.”
    Sunday Oregonian, August 22, 1948, Page 28
    ==============

    In August 1948, there is some pro and con in the paper about the “Lone Fir dilemma”, of how its location is hindering the development of the area, asking the “graves be re-interred in cemeteries far removed”

  14. Oh no! I should’ve checked the thread before I walked to the cemetery, but I got the name on the grave and everything. I found a house that is probably in the background on the Sanborn Maps and it was where the big long condo block is now. The Sanborn Maps show the cemetery definitely ending at Morrison as early as the 20’s.
    The name on the obelisk stone: Celia U. Secur, Wife of G. W. Parker. I think 2057 SE Morrison corresponds to a square house on the lot, which I was going to cross-reference with earlier maps.
    The pictures already posted are much better because by the time I got to Lone Fir, everything was backlit!

  15. The wall location was the streetcar stop when I rode the cars to high school in the forties, it was probably put in when the Sunnyside/Mt Tabor line was first constructed. This picture is either east or west of it.

  16. I agree with MikeD above that the white house looks too far away to be on Morrison. Compare it with the structure partially visible just in front of the streetcar. You can make out the far sidewalk and a utility pole as well. The house on the other hand seems to be set off by a vacant space and I’m reminded that those old black and white photos can really make depth perception difficult.

    Instead I think the white house is likely the house still at 2122 SE Belmont. Here’s a street-view taken from Morrison in 2007 during construction of the condos that are seen in Greg’s photo above. You can see the house I believe it is on Belmont behind the construction. From here you can’t see the porch but if you go to a close up street view you can see the porch and columns match exactly.

    The upstairs dormer window is also a good match. By enlarging the 1946 photo you can see two separate groups of (it looks like) three windows with a blank space in-between. Looking at the house now is hard because of the foliage, but it looks very much like it. Maybe someone can go take a close up of the windows sometime and see if it is actually 3 and 3. The one thing I can’t make out is the chimney in the old photo, but the glare on that side of the house is so bright it may just not be visible.

  17. It’s really hard to get a sense of perspective in the 1946 photo. That house looks too close to be on Belmont, yet too far to be on Morrison, unless it was set back much further than the new condos are.

  18. The perspective is baffling for sure. One thing I noticed on my walk there was the elevation (I am pretty bad at noticing topography and elevation usually). But when one is not exercising enough, the altitude gain from Belmont to Morrison and then up to the east entrance to Lone Fir is pretty hard to not-notice. As such, there is a drop in elevation from Morrison to Belmont and the 1950 Sanborn map would allow for a diagonal “straight shot” view to Belmont, I *think*, because in the way were only greenhouses, hardly tall structures. Hmm! I could see how both would be; I wish I knew more about depth of field on analog cameras!

  19. Bill, I think I know what you mean; I saw that on Google Maps and I was wondering what that was. Thanks to the Sanborn Maps, I finally understand the route the trolley took from Morrison down to Belmont between 27th and 28th, but I wish I’d known *before* I walked there today. I walked down 27th wondering where the streetcar tracks went!

  20. @kendalchen: Thanks for all of your efforts. When I visit Portland in a few months I will use your information and what others wrote to do my own on-the-ground research. This is fun and interesting.

  21. @Brian: I think this aerial view of the area from 1950 proves you right about it being on Belmont. That house is the only building like that in the area and it’s view would be unobstructed by the greenhouses in front of it.

  22. Lots of info here that’s not an “exact” match, but too many similarities to completely disregard. Sorry about the insane URL. I know you’ve told people how to shorten it, but I don’t remember. https://books.google.com/books?id=148pAQAAIAAJ&pg=PA435&lpg=PA435&dq=%22george+w+parker%22+oregon+celia&source=bl&ots=CQECRsIcsw&sig=QMHUQGVqibueJ2QUCxW0Q3kaax0&hl=en&sa=X&ei=LwbkVJ3lLJKZyATziYCwCw&ved=0CC8Q6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=%22george%20w%20parker%22%20oregon%20celia&f=false

  23. Standing at 26th and Morrison looking at those stubs of the old tracks, you can see that they point more or less at the face of the wall. The wall continues to about 25th, where it is replaced by a steep slope. I have to conclude that the tracks followed a gentle slope up to the cemetary level, and that the wall was built after the tracks were removed. That has bothered me ever since I discovered those rails. Now I can relax.

  24. @Greg on 2/17 at 11:12 posted a picture of the identifiable head stone. He stated that it was on approximately SE 23rd. At 2:33 @kendalchen posted that he thought that 2057 Morrison might be the house in the background. In a subsequent post, he wondered if he was correct. Now @Sean Croghan guesses that the house is the one at 2118 SE Belmont.

    As I stated in an earlier post , I no longer live in Oregon and won’t be returning for a visit for a few months. Therefore I cannot go out there and look myself. Everyone who has posted has added to our collective knowledge, but I’m not convinced we have the correct house. Is it on Morrison or Belmont? 21st, 22nd or 23rd? Maybe I’m just obtuse, and the rest of you have figured it out. So, does anyone feel close to 100% that they know where that house was (is?) located?

    Finally, I want to sincerely thank everyone who has posted. I can honestly say that I never had so much fun tracking down a particular location.

  25. @Greg: You might be correct, but if you look at the Google satellite photo of 2122 SE Belmont, it appears that the house is facing an area of the cemetery without any trees, and the photo you provided yesterday has a lot of trees around the confirmed head stone. This might be due to the angle of the photo, but it still doesn’t look right to me. Here is a link to the satellite photo:

    https://www.google.com/maps/place/2122+SE+Belmont+St,+Portland,+OR+97214/@45.5164635,-122.6438616,621m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m2!3m1!1s0x5495a0981ad5c511:0x4d0c16114ec51013

  26. @Peter: I feel 100% certain that Brian is correct backed up by Greg’s pics. We are looking SW at the Southern edge of Lone Fir through empty lots bound by Morrison and Belmont, 20th and 23rd. Down to the home at 2122 SE Belmont. Which is still standing. I think the headstone engraving and house details prove the spot. Crimson King Maples (or any) are fast growers.

  27. Thanks Dan S. And Dan S is right to point out the photo is looking SW. Looking at the angle of the head stone, both the posted photo and Greg’s current photo are almost due SW. If you take Peter’s or Greg’s aerial view and draw a line say between 40 and 50 degrees from the house on Belmont across the intervening block (which, in fact, Greg did on his to illustrate the point), you end up not only in the wooded section, but the right wooded section for the headstone in the photos. It just strikes me as rather improbable that another house with design that matches as closely as it’s possible to see would be at the right angle from that spot and in the distance.

    Thanks to Greg we know the exact spot the photo was taken. If it wasn’t that house, from the angle it was taken, it would have had to be a close neighbor of that and we know from Greg’s aerial photo and Sanborn that there wasn’t another one like that within a few houses either way. We also know from Greg’s aerial photo that there wasn’t one on that section of Morrison. I just don’t see how it could be any other house. If I was a betting man, I’d be willing to wager a fairly large sum on that being the house in question.

  28. Brian, it looks in Google street view as if those tracks go down the street, but I went there in person and saw that they would have to make a very sharp leftward zigzag in order to stay on the street. And they have to get up to the level of the cemetary, because they are right up there next to the graves in the main photo. I am no expert on stone walls, but even though the wall looks much older, it could have been built in the 1950s. That’s enough time for it go become covered with moss.

    The alignment of those rails has mystified me since I first saw them. They are not aligned with the street and this is the only explanation of that I can think of.

  29. Carter K., I’m not saying they go down the street, they clearly would run along the grassy section next to the wall. I am saying they clearly do not run into the wall (i.e. if you take the northern-most rail of the 4 and extend it straight ahead, it does not intersect the wall, but rather parallels it). They may well have climbed up the grassy incline/ hill that runs up along the side the wall a little ways to the west. It’s much easier to imagine that slope of earth has been altered slightly (narrowed, cut back perhaps), than that the old wall is post 1950. I also see no reason from the placement of the rails that remain to believe the wall couldn’t have been there.

  30. On a side note it’s interesting to see how grave markers sink into the ground over time. Pretty neat comparison.

  31. Lone Fir. This is a pretty good picture of Car 804 stopped at Lone Fir, looking from Morrison street towards Lone Fir. You can see people in this car vs car 652. What is a Fan Trip? From this picture, it looks like the tracks sit higher than the street. Link to the picture
    http://efiles.portlandoregon.gov/Record/4891364
    City Auditor – Archives & Records Management – Auditor’s Historical Records – A2011-007.97 : Fan Trip – Car 804 at Lone Fir Cemetery, Record Date
    12/31/1948

  32. Been super fun reading through this thread. I spent 7 years at 2432 SE Morrison, 99-06, top floor of the duplex. 9 years later, my old neighbor still lives in the lower flat. I spent many hours staring off into that cemetery, and wondering how the Trolley was routed through there. I miss a lot of things about the old ‘hood, but I don’t miss the constant car vandalism and homeless guests on my front porch.

  33. The tracks were higher than the narrow street, after the rails were removed the bed was cut down to street lever in order to widen Morrison. Rode the MT daily to Washington High school in 1948.

  34. Does anyone know what this remnant of concrete was? Could this have been an old streetcar stop or something?

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