15 thoughts on “Willamette River, circa 1925

  1. Very interesting photo, as I’ve never seen a picture of the old ferry. When I was a boy we used to cross the old bridge all the time from southwest Portland to see an elderly great uncle and aunt who lived in Sellwood. They remembered when the bridge was first built and they used to talk about the ferry that predated the bridge. The old bridge always seemed very narrow to me, compared to other Portland bridges farther north.

  2. One reason for building the Sellwood bridge was people complained the ferry was too expensive to operate. In December 1924, two cars drove across the river on ice floes that had frozen together The 2 cars drove onto the ice from SE Spokane Street, made their way across the river, then exited at the west side ferry landing.

  3. i saw the date and thought ‘has to be right around the end of the ferry’ and sure enough…

    i had just finished reading ‘memories of old sellwood’ by evangeline nyden, which contains a chapter on the ferry. she mentions that it was a ‘cable ferry’ but this shot of the john caples seems to have sidewheels… or is that structure the mechanism that follows the cable?

  4. Lots of questions. What are the two white fences on the right? A farm or a road? How many cars did the ferry hold? Doesn’t look like very many, even 1925 size. It looks like it also had enclosed spaces for pedestrians?

  5. Kenn: Back in early 90’s, the Spokane Street ramp was used as a boat launch. There was lottsa stuff to see. That launch ramp could get dicey at times.

  6. If the ferry was cable-guided, the cable would be on the upstream side, so this picture cannot answer the question of whether it was cable-guided or not.

    I sure wish I could see a steam-powered sidewheel ferry in operation.

  7. Short distance ferries were normally underwater cable guided, the closest present day example to Portland is the Canby ferry ~

  8. Susan, the white fences visible on the right-hand side of the image are the brand-new guard rails for the OR 43 interchange with the bridge; the upper set of rails is beside the northbound lanes at the west end of the bridge, while the lower set guards the northbound lane that runs under the bridge

  9. I can’t be sure but I don’t think the John F. Caples was cable guided. It’s listed here (http://tinyurl.com/ybvt3foq) as a side-wheeler steamboat. I can’t find any listing that it was cable guided. I did find mention that cable ferries were/are used mainly in areas of low level navigation to avoid the cable snagging other boats. Given the amount of ship traffic up to and including Oregon City I don’t think they would have used a cable (chain) in this area.

    I wait to be corrected by others with access to better research material than I can find.

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