Portland Cable Railway, circa 1890

Portland Cable Railway, circa 1890. The railway building was located on the corner of SW 15th Avenue and SW Mill Street according to the 1890 Polk Directory.


City of Portland Archives, Oregon, A2004-002.3631

City of Portland Archives, Oregon, A2004-002.3631


View this image in Efiles by clicking here.

21 thoughts on “Portland Cable Railway, circa 1890

  1. Great photo. The cable car landing in Portland Heights was on SW Spring Street. Before the line opened, people hiked on the tressel to picnic and reach summer cottages.
    The cable once broke sending a car careening back down
    the steep incline. The two operators jumped off while several passengers remained onboard and survived relatively unscathed.

  2. From the map, this looks to be in the vicinity of where the tunnels on Hwy 26 go through the hill. Is that where this location is?

  3. Barbara,

    It ran perpendicular from where Hwy 26 enters the tunnels. If you look at the lower right of the linked illustration, you can see the old power house still existed and the trestle ran up through the gully just above the power house (the trestle had been demolished by this time). Hwy 26 would eventually follow the gully just to the right.


    Today, the Goose Hollow Town Homes occupy the site of the former trestle.


  4. this is a picture i own, slightly different perspective. slightly bigger than my scanner; sorry. i have not seen a similar shot in city or ohs archives, but doesn’t mean it isn’t in there. i would like to know what display context the photo was in (school project? museum display?) and if there were more shots from the same photographer…


  5. also, can anyone identify the house at top of hill? it is not carter’s, which appears to be above the powerhouse. it might also be two houses superimposed by perspective – but if that is the area of sw jackson and carter lane (which had two houses in that arrangement), this photo has to be before 1890; the current house on jackson does not look like either of these.

  6. for ‘carter’s house,’ read a.t. smith house, as i see it described as such. i was told by an elderly neighbor that the house was ‘the first house carter built in his addition,’ but anecdotes can be wrong.

  7. thanks jim. extra confusing is that the 1896 polk list NO thomas carter at all, and has a.t. smith living at 444 20th. people seem quite mobile back then!

  8. If you will recall a pulley was found while excavating for the new Max line. Not sure what they did with it but I remember it being a mystery for awhile.

  9. The two gents parked up against the car barn look to be enjoying their leisurely day. Plenty of time for philosophical discussions while waiting for the next car to go by.

  10. i was hoping those three lounging gents (one is in a doorway) would be blue collar; the man who built my house was employed as a ‘car mechanic’ in the late 1890s. thought maybe i’d spot him!

  11. i am pretty sure that stone structure wasn’t built until the 1980s. when was the traffic circle put in – 60s?

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