Oregon Transfer Company, 1920

Men posing with an Oregon Transfer Company truck that is delivering paper to the Oregonian Building at SW 6th Avenue and SW Alder Street, 1920.


City of Portland (OR) Archives, A2004-002.6717.


View this image in Efiles by clicking here.

25 thoughts on “Oregon Transfer Company, 1920

  1. Apparently Oregon Transfer Co is still around.

    The original company founders started in the transportation and logistics business in 1855 and were integral in the establishment of the city of Portland and achieving Oregon statehood. To honor their commitment, several Portland streets bear the names of these early stakeholders. Oregon Transfer Co. was officially established in 1868 and changed hands several times until 1926 when the Bates family acquired the company. Many generations later, they retain ownership and continue the tradition of providing excellent logistics services.

    In the mid 1850’s, most commerce in the west was handled regionally by ship and locally by horse drawn cart. Oregon Transfer Co. identified the opportunity and started in business, creating articles of incorporation that defined “the general transfer business of freight and passengers of all kinds and descriptions in the state of Oregon, across and along rivers, and other streams forming the boundary thereof, and in adjoining territories; to receive and receipt for all kinds of baggage and freight, and the same for hire transfer and convey to and from any and all depots, warehouses, steamships, steamboats, ferry boats, docks, sailing vessels, railroad cars, hotels houses, shops, stables, stores, or other places within said state – and to transfer and convey passengers to and from any of the points above.”

  2. I wish I could see what make that truck is. It’s really pretty impressive! Likely a custom bodied job that may have been built here in Portland. There were several custom truck body companies in town back then. Judging by the dealer license plate and the spotless condition of the truck, I would speculate that it was on it’s maiden voyage delivering paper to the Oregonian. It looks like a photo op to me.

  3. mb,

    The building was demolished in 1950 after sitting empty for the two years after the Oregonian relocated to their Broadway offices.

  4. @Mike Slama,

    You’re more of a car expert than I am, but doesn’t the truck model seem about 10 years older than the 1920 date?

  5. I love this image. While the Oregonian Building is long gone, the 1906 Oregon Transfer Building Warehouse still exists in the NW 13th Avenue Historic District. A fine brick warehouse designed by William C. Knighton. Knighton and Root designed 3 of the earliest and most interesting warehouse buildings, all on the NRHP, including my favorite, the 1909 Crane Company Warehouse and Library Building.

  6. Two comments:

    First, Oregon Transfer for many years was the preferred mover of heavy equipment in Portland, specifically printing equipment (presses, Linotypes and such).

    Second, all that paper would go a long way these days. No Oregonian building, no printing presses. Yesterday was 12 pages tabloid! Sign of the times.

  7. That’s a Nye Mercantile tractor. A fairly common configuration during that timeframe between horses & motor trucks. Nye’s also had a form of power steering!
    About 5 mph was its speed & could carry about 30,000 lb
    Nye’s were assembled of common parts, Buda engine, Fuller gearbox, etc. In Seattle was a dealership.

  8. According to the axle cap (?), the front end at least is a Nye Mercantile Tractor. As of 1920, these were manufactured by Hood Industrial Motors in Seattle. Potentially some other company built the bed, etc.?

    Found this article / press release in the April 15, 1920, issue of The Commercial Car Journal:

  9. Oops – sounds like KK has more info on the Nye. Hood Industrial Motors was a dealer, rather than the manufacturer?

  10. Portland used to manufacture things that contributed to the economy. Cars, trucks, ships, industrial equipment, locomotives, textiles, meat packing and a whole host of items that we now import. Even our food and livestock which were big industries(largest meat packing west of the Mississippi) that we sent all over the US and the world is no more. Today it builds homeless camps and sanctuary zones. Then the rioters finish off what is left. How the mighty have fallen.,

  11. Oregonian Building was torn down in 1948. I worked for the company responsible for the sale, that summer on that project, ran the construction elevator.

  12. Thank you for posting the photo of the 7-story 1906 Oregon Transfer Co.
    Warehouse Building. A vintage handsome hand-painted sign is well preserved
    on the street level entrance. This warehouse (on the SW corner) adjoins another
    4-story Warehouse on the opposite NW corner that uses similar design elements. Both have impressive utilitarian construction and designs. Both on the NRHP. I believe listed together and designed by Knighton and Root.

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