7 thoughts on “NW Savier Street, 1936

  1. According to Wikipedia the Birney Car or Birney Safey Car , two examples of which we see here was the patented invention of Charles O. Birney and Joseph M. Bosenbury. It’s main advantage was one man operation making it attractive for street railways with lightly patronized routes, The Willamette Heights line WH depicted here certainly fits that bill. By the time of this photo the WH has been permanently painted on the dash.

    Portland trolley historian and author, the late John T. Labbe in his wonderful book Fares Please tells us that 25 of these cars were acquired on lease from the federal Emergency Fleet Corporation by Portland Railway Light and Power Company in 1918. Recall that the nations railroads were nationalized during World War 1 and these cars were assigned to relieve a perceived strain on the transit system from the demands of the war. With the return to normal times in 1922 the cars were purchased by the railway and subsequently passed on to The Portland Traction Company.
    As street railway traffic declined and lightly patronized lines eliminated these little cars found fewer and fewer uses and at the end the Willamette Heights line became their last refuge. The last run was on July 10, 1939. Two of these cars were standard gauge and one of these reputedly survived and is presently incorporated into a present day Portland restaurant although I have no idea the name or whereabouts.Perhaps some reader will enlighten us.


    Fares Please, Labbe, John T., The Caxton Printers 1980

    Portland’s Sreetcars, Thompson, Richard, Arcadia Publishing 2006

  2. From a friend who worked at the Old Spaghetti Factory for many years.

    “The Old Spaghetti Factory used original trolleys in the early years when they were still relatively easy to find, however that being said, they are mostly impossible to find these days. OSHA and consumer laws won’t allow them in new stores so Spaghetti Factory had to start building their own “trolley” to address the handicap laws. The old real trolleys got “grandfathered” into existing locations and you’ll still see one original trolley at the South Waterfront restaurant but the other 3 local restaurants they are the OSF shop built ADA trolleys.”

  3. No. 19 and a sister Birney Safety Car are seen stored in the Savier Street Carbarn in 1936, less than two years before this barn (and the Savier Division) was closed. This is a similar car to the one now in the Portland Old Spaghetti Factory (in much remodeled form), except that one is one of Portland Traction Company’s two standard gauge trolleys (800 and 801) used in SE Portland.

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