16 thoughts on “Ford Street Bridge, 1909

  1. Ken: I was reading the back of the post card. It indicates that when the Ford Street bridge was dismantled (after being replaced by the Vista Bridge), it was recycled as the “Burlingame Viaduct.” I’m guessing this was a viaduct built to carry Terwilliger over what is now Interstate 5? I know there was once an older bridge there.

  2. I’m confused. Where was the Ford Street Bridge? I know SW Ford St, but where was the bridge crossing? Did it have anything to do with the Lewis and Clark Exposition?

  3. This bridge gained some notoriety in 1907 when one Dr. Philip Johnson, while returning home from a friend’s house, was robbed and murdered by a local Gander Ridge gang of thugs who threw him from the bridge.

    According to this lSpokesman-Review article, the Doctor and his wife lived at the Nortonia, today’s Mark Spencer hotel.

  4. @Dave Albertine: The Ford Street Bridge was where the Vista Bridge is today, give or take perhaps a very slight alignment difference. When the current Vista Bridge was built the old structure was moved to carry Terwilliger Blvd. over where I-5 is now (was just a railroad at the time). When I was first driving I-5 in that area, late 80’s to early 90’s, I remember the old green metal bridge that used to be there before the new bridge was built (don’t recall when).

  5. igor,

    The Balch Gulch bridge is unrelated to either the Ford Street Bridge or the Vista View Bridge.

    The 1905 Balch Gulch Bridge is also known as the Thurman Street Bridge and is in NW Portland. It has the distinction of being the oldest surviving bridge in the region.

  6. as mentioned here:


    before this bridge was built, a small lane wound up the cliff face, called terrace rd – now part of montgomery. vista did not exist north of montgomery, dead-ending just past the sharp curve portrayed in the old postcards labelled “on the way to council crest!” the king’s heights section was called ford st, allegedly because it went to the ford dealer on burnside (urban myth?) only trace is the oddly-named ford st. drive; which, if you travel it, not only has some interesting houses, but will show you what most roads not ‘on the grid’ looked like up there before 1920!

  7. The Terwilliger Bridge keeps comin’ up here. I can only go back to the mid-fifties as far as the Terwilliger Bridge (The White Bridge, as some people in the neighborhood used to call it.), and to me, it always looked wooden…probably because of the white wooden railings, the natural wooden sidewalk that was on the East side of the bridge and just the overall “look” of the bridge. I remember, as a kid, walking across that bridge, looking down at the wooden-plank sidewalk and being able to see through it here and there…kinda scary at times, but all that was before the freeway went in. I can even remember my parents saying that, as they drove across the bridge, that it was time for a new one…just because it was kind of a bouncy ride. I remember the gully below…woods, trees and a fun place to play…and then, the freeway construction started and changed the whole neighborhood…split it in half. Anyway, I know of that bridge and, of course, the current one. Was there one before…has there been three Terwilliger bridges?

  8. Someone told me the Thurman St. bridge was an “upside down truss”. Don’t know about that but in the 60’s when I was a small lad my Dad would take us kids to Macleay park to hike and then onto Bonnie’s drive-in for an ice-cream cone. Bonnie’s was on 16th (I think). Been hiking ever since.

  9. Further research shows Bonnie’s on 19th. Also according to Oregonian many spectacular suicides occurred on the “old Ford street bridge”. I think they finally installed fencing on the Vista?

  10. the photographer seems to standing on old jefferson, looking east… about where the max goes into the tunnel.

  11. The “urban myth” of Ford Street’s name being tied to a local Ford dealer on Burnside is clearly only a myth as Ford Street shows up on the 1901 Sanborn map and the Ford Auto company wasn’t incorporated until 1903, and the model T didn’t appear until 1908.

  12. yeah, i figured as much; there are a number of stories that get repeated often as gospel that have no real basis in fact – the person who told me that story (who lived in the area) probably got it from eugene snyder’s ‘portland names and neighborhoods;’ an interesting book that seems to be 1/2 diligent research work and 1/2 pure speculation!

    for the record, snyder cites a 1904 ordinance naming the street, but it was clearly called that before then.

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