16 thoughts on “Northwest Industrial Waterfront, 1972

  1. Among all the buildings is this one:
    NW Natural has been trying to tear the building down but there is a local group trying to save it.
    Also, the train bridge looks different now because it was converted to a vertical lift bridge back in the late 80’s after 2 locomotives plunged into the river when the swing span was open.

  2. I always liked the design of that building…I used to see it all the time, when driving out to Terminal #4 to deliver stuff to that US Customs office way back in the early 70’s.

  3. Jim Kahn: I agree. There is something about the design of that building that is mysterious and alluring. Maybe they can save it!

  4. Just a picky detail for the geographers….that view is closer to facing straight west, not northwest. I enjoy the memories of the mysterious Gasco building. It always had a slightly sinister feeling.

  5. Rumblefish351:
    Let’s hope so!

    Gordon Kennedy:
    Sinister…yeah, I totally agree, but I wonder what it looked like when it was new and young…possibly a little landscaping may have given it more “life” at one time!

  6. Just to clarify that the BSNF bridge was change from a swing span to a lift span to get rid of the swing pier. This was to allow bigger ships to come into Portland. Specifically for Cascade General who had contracts on oil tankers needing maintainence from Alaska. Their was also talk at the time of navy contracts with some of the smaller non nuclear carriers.

  7. Thanks Todd, your clarification on the structural change on the bridge is spot on correct . It had nothing to do with the rail accident that occured .

  8. Todd…
    And don’t forget the container ships that were just beginning to enter the picture. One of the first container ships to make its way down the Willamette River back in early 1973 and pass under the uncompleted Freemont Bridge was The Golden Arrow. That was back when just the containers themselves were just “babies” compared to the size they are now-a-days! The “shipping via container” virtually reshaped the entire shipping industry…and put a lot of Portland longshoreman and US Customs employees out of work! The original Terminal’s One & Two, and their berthing docks, on NW Front Avenue, disappeared and more efficient and suitable docks were in the process of being designed and built at the time, beginning with Terminal Five.

  9. Jim, the bridge was remodeled in 1988 and containerization was well underway by then . by 1975 terminal 6 was in full operation and there was no reason to go beyond there . The bridge was specifically remodeled for swan island’s new Dry Dock no.4, and the vessels that called there to use it . the bridge proved to be an extreme hazard for the tankers the used the new D.D. and the bridge needed to be changed, those large tankers that were serviced at swan island were working the Valdez Alaska Oil service . . Also, there were never any container vessels that transited beyond terminal no. 2 portland as there where no berths beyond there that handled containerized cargo, ever . Terminal no. 2 handled mostly lash barges,(google “lash barges” to see what they are),during the 1970’s and some of those had conatiners in them as long as many other types of cargo but, not enough to matter and those caintainers came to that facility by rail . terminal no 1’s upper most berth did not extend beyond the freemont bridge and terminal 1 was a break bulk facility and was out dated by the 1970’s and hardly ever used for it’s purpose by then, other than for river barge storage or a tie off for the dredge Oregon when she was not working . as far as log rafts go, they are still in operation in the columbia river but, more and more logs are being moved by flat decked barges and by log trucks on the highways.

  10. chris b:

    Please forgive me…
    So, all those large cargo ships that I boarded, along with US Customs Inspectors at Terminal 1, Berths 1,2 & 3, and at Terminal 2, Berths 1 & 2, that the longshoreman were unloading almost daily with cargo from other countries was all my imagination?

    While there may have been a few “containers” that might have been on those ships in late ’69, ’70 & ’71, the foreign “cargo” at the time was still mostly packed and shipped in wooden crates, labeled to identify them as to their countries of origin, stenciled with various forms of US Custom ID numbers and other various identifying numbers, markings and addresses. Those wooden crates, of various sizes and shapes, were bound to wooden pallets that were transferred from the ships onto the docks below by crane operators to the crews of “dock” longshoreman below, and then transferred, by the numerous yellow Hyster fork-lifts of varying sizes, to specific locations in and around those dock “parking lots” to numbered spaces/stalls for easy identification and even inspections, according to the requirements and specifications indicated on the US Custom Entry Form for said shipment, i.e., find a particular cargo order, open one of the crates to inspect, verify and identify the merchandise inside, and, if necessary, (depending, of course, on the size of the item within the crate!), take a sample back to the downtown US Customs Building, then located at NW Broadway & Glisan, for further confirmation of things like country of origin ID markings, required labeling and such. More times than not however, the simple initialing of the Terminal Customs Inspector was enough to satisfy the requirements noted on the particular CE Form in question. A carbon copy of the small “tear-off” 5101 Form attached to the General CE Form was then left with the Terminal Customs Inspector as proof that the merchandise had, indeed, been inspected and the original, signed 5101 Form was returned to the Customs Building. (Duties were then paid upon confirmation of inspection and approval by US Customs.) Then, it was simply a matter of filling the various shipping & cargo trucks upon their arrival at the terminals. It took another crew of “ground” longshoreman, buzzing around with their fork-lifts, to fill those long-haul trucks with said cargo…and then they were off…to deliver that order to its specific and/or final destination (s).

    Note: I am not writing to contradict anything you might have said, I’m just stating some of my recollections during my time and involvement in the shipping industry during the very late 60’s and early 70’s.

  11. Jim, the ships you are talking about that you worked at t1 and t2, (that actually went “UP” the willamette, not “down” the willamette, to the uncompleted freemont bridge, as you stated, in your discription on Aril 20, 2015 @155 pm), those ship were general cargo ships and/or what are refered to as, “Bulk Carries” of that time and Not container ships. your discription of Container vessels and were they went was not correct as you mentioned in the original text, (where you told Todd “not to forget” in the text you wrote on April 20, 2015 155 pm), about why the RR bridge was remodeled was not correct . i am sure you in your discription of what the longshore did on their hysters and the forms that were filled out, Boxes that were labled, inspections that were carried out and what was parked where and when in the parking lot was all, in your long dictation, was Indeed Correct . It’s your terminology as to the types of ships they were and where they went, the discription of containerized cargo and the not containerized cargo, the direction in which the willamette river flows, why the RR bridge was remodeled and the year time frame in which the RR bridge was remodeled, it was 1988 to be exact, not 1973, (as you mentioned on April 20,2015 @155pm to Todd) and not twenty years before in the late sixties, as you mention that in your long dictation, that is what i was referring to as not correct in your statement of april 20, 2015 @ 155 pm, that post is what was not correct. Also, the Numbering system of the old berths at T2 and T1 you mentioned in your last long dictation of hysters and such, was not correct as well; Example: It was Terminal No.1 Berth No. 101, 102, 103 (which was the slip beth) 105 and 106. For Terminal No.2, it was Berth No. 201,(a slip berth) 202, 203 204 (both slip berths) 205 and 206, (the slip berths at t2 are now eliminated). Not Terminal 1 berths 1,2 & 3, Not Terminal 2 berths 1&2. I can assure you, that is not my imagination.
    I too am not writing this to contradict anything you may have said but, to merly correct the record. history is important, and it is important that it is correct for those who read it and learn from it. These too are my recollections, recollections of the last 37 years of being a rivermen, and hoping to continue on to 17 more if my health holds out .

  12. chris b:

    At least we have one thing in common…we’re both rather long winded! I was only trying to share my recollections and memories…I wasn’t trying to sound like a…oh never mind. Thank you…and thanks for takin’ some of the fun out of this site

  13. Hey, at least you guys were pretty civil to each other! That’s a pretty rare occurrence on most of the Internet these days, so bravo. Memory can be such a finicky thing anyway. Even if you don’t get everything 100 percent correct, the recollections of both of you and everyone on this site collectively paint some awesome pictures of Portland history for the rest of us.

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