Engine 21, 1916

Engine 21 and crew on SW 5th Avenue and SW Oak Street, heading to a fire, 1916. The engine is a 1913 Pope Hartford with a right side steering wheel. Captain William Heath is in the passenger seat. The car behind the engine is a chief’s vehicle.


City of Portland (OR) Archives, Engine 21 and crew on SW 5th and Oak heading to a fire, A2001-083, 1916.


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11 thoughts on “Engine 21, 1916

  1. I believe this may have been taken outside the extant 1895 Lincoln Building before it was modernized and clad in tile. Here is a view from the Fourth Avenue side that shows a lot of the same types of detail.

  2. This would be about five years after beloved chief David Campbell lost his life in the Union Oil blaze. 150,000 people lined the streets for Campbell’s funeral procession. At that time, Portland had 200,000 residents.

  3. Given the trolley tracks it looks like Oak is to the right and 5th to the left. Is this really the same building today?

  4. the ‘fire’ semaphore is pretty cool… i assume it shows which box called the fire in, and then the crew has to figure out the exact location once they arrive there?

    there are still a few red/black/white-striped utility poles in my neighborhood, marking the former call-box locations.

  5. Where’s the steering wheel on that truck? The guy on the right in the front seat doesn’t look like he’s got his hands on a wheel…

  6. The building in the picture no longer exists, not sure when it was demolished but I do know that around 1980 /1981 the existing brick clad building was designed and constructed by BOORA architects on the site. In the Architects office, the project was titled 5th and Oak.

  7. Wonder how many storefronts were smashed that day ? Folks pepper sprayed ?
    Cars & trashbins set alight ? Some things never change. Keep Portland Wierd !

  8. Looks like the steering wheel is mostly hidden behind the light. I’m guessing this picture was posed to illustrate the new “fire” signal, which seems to be a home-made contraption using parts from a railroad semaphore. Since they don’t show a person triggering it, I wonder if this was a signal for traffic to stop, so the engine from a nearby fire company could get across the intersection (like the flashing lights at fire stations today).

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