7 thoughts on “Willamette River, 1952

  1. Sadly, I would be inclined to recommend at least that level of protection to anyone planning to swim in that river today. Certainly to anyone I care about. The “sewer work” seems redundant.
    No offense, just saying.

  2. I don’t think the Willamette is that badly polluted today. I recall an extensive clean-up campaign in the 80’s to present (unless that was a bold cover-up). I have been told that it’s now one of the cleanest rivers in the country! Not perfect, but cleaner than most. Maybe I’m wrong, but I hope not!

  3. This photo of the diver and the reference to “sewer work” in the Willamette River is undoubtedly connected to a multimillion dollar PDX sewer system modernization project under way during 1951-52. On July 15, 1952, the State Construction Co. of Seattle started work laying a sewage pipeline on the river bottom to connect the west side sewers to the east side system for the first time; previously all west side sewage was discharged directly into the river without treatment. With the new system the sanitary discharge was diverted from a new pumping station at Ankeny St. to an existing east side pumping station north of Sullivan’s Gulch, and onward to the treatment plant along the Columbia River. The two steel sewage pipes placed in a single bed dug into the river bottom measured 42 and 30 inches in diameter. The pipe sections were joined by “ball and socket” joints every six lengths to allow for flexibility. The pipeline ran 60 feet below the river surface at its deepest point. Divers clearly would have been needed to guide the pipe sections into place (lowered by cranes) and complete the connections. The young man in the diving suit shown here on July 18th may have been a State Construction employee working on the sewer pipeline in the river. The whole sewer update project was finished by around November 1952. (Source: The Oregonian, 16 Jul 1952.)

  4. On that guys “off time” He probably dredged the riverbed just beyond the old sewer outflow.
    Think of all the coins & jewelry went down drains for all those years !!

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