22 thoughts on “Coal Delivery Buggy, circa 1910

  1. In 1910, most houses had fireplaces with small fire boxes designed to burn coal. Of course, cedar and fir slabs were also used in wood burning furnaces. I guess the coal must have been brought to Portland from somewhere back East by rail…

    Portland’s air smelled of coal dust throughout the fall, winter and early spring, like the cities of Northern Europe.

  2. On closer examination, of the Advertizing signage covering the canvas top on the wagon, it may be that the wagon is loaded with “slab wood” (left over log sides) from a nearby lumber mills. The Industrial Flats of Northwest Portland was then and now known as “Slabtown” for the many lumber mills that served as a source of fire wood. In the working class neighborhoods slabs were left stacked in the parking strip or front yard of houses.

  3. One of my earliest memories is of the pile of coal in our basement in Sellwood. This would’ve been c. 1954. The houses that we lived in after that used oil for heat.

  4. taking down an unused chimney, under years of ash and mortar, we found the bottom full of coal and clinkers. which explained the weird hole nearby in the top of the basement foundation: coal chute. someone – home owner or delivery guy – had to haul it up steep and narrow steps to get there. far easier to have hauled it in through the street-level basement door!

  5. I thought someone would have identified the location by now! A house and a hill seems to be sufficient in these parts.

  6. I strongly agree this was slab wood Coal is much too heavy for those tall side but slab wood is very bulky and hard to pack tightly

  7. rose city van co. was at foster and 89th, but no telling where the photo was taken. tracks weren’t buried, so probably not a trolley (tho if this is out by mount scott or tabor or kelly butte, maybe?).

  8. portland power and light had a streetcar line down foster, and i did find photos of tracks above grade in eastern spots. these rails seem heavier and taller than a trolley track, but some lines used heavier cars and thus had beefier rails. could still be a train track. where did normal trains run on the east side?

    house is on a corner (see power pole), but that’s not much to go on! what igor might think is a hill is the other horse, so no help with topography. if that is foster, it is late in the day by the sun angle. no wonder he and the horses look tired.

  9. I agree this is likely a wood delivery — but coal was mined near Enumclaw in Washington State — the town named Black Diamond is named after the nearby coal mines.

  10. Our house in inner NE has a got water boiler that shows signs (a feeder mechanism) of having been converted from either coal or sawdust… I’d guess coal. A friend who was an amateur historian called our alley a ‘coal-alley’, and one can see evidence in the basement on the sill of the alley-side casement window that it was worn down by repeated deliveries. Also that window is the only one that has easily removable bars in the window… by the vendor I’m guessing.
    There was a silent butler from the area near the boiler that allowed firewood, or coal perhaps, to be sent up to the kitchen. The grand daughter of the woman who lived here up ’til 1970 told us that her grandmother used a wood burning stove in the kitchen as late as the early ’60’s, and used the silent butler to get the firewood.
    At some point the boiler was switched to gas, not at all sure when, but I’m guessing pretty early.

  11. Looks like a coalwagon to me, But probably carried wood or anything else that vendor sold. A wagon strictly for coal would not be as tall.

    The guys boots are actually canvas leggings what connect over boots & up the calf.
    Just the thing for working in the snow.

    Back in the day, Lots of Portland burned coal. I been in a couple old houses what still had coal bins intact. If the room was converted to something else, its delivery window bears evidence of years of heavy objects passed thru.

    I remember Albina Fuel advertised coal up into the 70s…

  12. Friend of mine still has the coal chute company name plate on the side of his house in Irvington. Renton Washington was another place where coal was mined at one time. Wasn’t it Iron fireman here in town that invented the automatic coal stoker?

  13. We had train line that came off of NE Glisan onto 80th that line dead ended at Stark to bring freight into Montavilla . Roof line looks familiar, in fact like my house. Bathroom was added to back porch as you can see vent pipe.

  14. Stanley, your comment about the wood-burning kitchen stove brought back a memory. In the late 50’s I used to rake up leaves for an old woman who lived c. SE 65th & Flavel. She had a large wood-burning stove. I would bring her small branches from the yard & she would start the fire with crumpled newspapers. Everyone else that I knew had electric stoves in SE Portland. I was fascinated with hers.

  15. Stanley and Chuck — When we moved from Eugene to the Deep South in 1987, one of the stereotypes of the Pacific Northwest I heard from Southerners learning where I came from was “y’all still use wood stoves!”

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