17 thoughts on “Mocks Bottom, 1949

  1. What we see. Gritty wonderful, awe inspiring post war Swan Island. A sleeping industrial giant. The sheer size of the steel structures. The lagoon float plane base. Fishing from the piers. Enough room for adventures for any kid on a bike. The fast ride down the long Going hill and the torcherous slow peddle back up. Hop a freight train out to the hobo camps on Mocks Bottom. So many of us practiced driving on those large open parking lots. Home for the river dredges and the sub base.

  2. The old Swan Island airport terminal building is visible in the upper left quadrant (divide the photo into four quadrants and it’s very close to the center of the upper left). You can see the central control “tower” part clearly. It’s flanked on either side by two buildings with angled roofs that used to be airplane hangers.

  3. Having not grown up in this area, it is great to have someone sharing their childhood memories of places in the photos; really makes things come alive. Thanks for your commentary Bob S.

  4. Are all the units on the bottom half of the picture war time housing or office buildings? If housing, how many units per compound, and why are they connected? Looks like they’re dismantling one in the bottom center of the pic. Neat piles of lumber laying next to the roofless unit.

  5. In 1876 the Corps of Engineers had to decide which side of the island would make the best boat channel, the narrow deep one on the north side or the shallow on the south (page 22, Army Engineers and the Development of Oregon) The north does not look logical at all when blocking it seems the current would open up the south channel.

  6. What a great aerial view of Mock’s Bottom and Swan Island as it looked when I was a kid! Thanks for pointing out the old airline terminal, Brian. I’d always heard Mom and Dad say that Swan Island was the site of the original airport, and now I can see what the terminal and “tower” looked like. Also, the railroad tracks and the hobo camps. I remember when my family drove out there, parked the 1950 Ford along the ledge, and looked across that vast expanse while Dad pointed out the fabled hobo camps, the railroad tracks and sidelined freight cars, and the sooty industrial scene in the background. Pretty exciting for a five year old who finally gets to see it since we now have a car. Bob, I think you put it best: the “Gritty wonderful, awe inspiring post war Swan Island.” Thanks!

  7. Since nobody mentioned the log rafts tied up long the banks, I will.. At one time you could see them along the river from below Oregon City to the mouth. The last mill left along the river shut down in the mid to late 70’s.

  8. The property owner placed a classified ad in the Oregonian in the mid/late 19th century offering Swan Island for sale. Some early officials wanted to completely dredge it out.

  9. I find this photo very interesting for the reasons already mentioned, but also very interesting because it shows the Willamette Cove industrial area going a full steam just downriver from the railroad bridge on the Swan Island side of the river. The Port of Portland drydock operation is jammed in just beyond the bridge. Beyond that is the Portland Manufacturing plywood mill and other lumber related interests. I find it amazing how much industry was fit into that fairly small, constrained area. Fascinating industrial artifacts were in this area until very recently when many of the concrete foundations of the buildings and other structures were removed.

    On the near side of the railroad bridge is the McCormick and Baxter Creosoting site, which had been in operation for only seven years when the photo was taken. They used the next forty years to expand and make their very substantial contribution to the Portland Harbor Superfund Site. It has been capped and a barrier installed in an attempt to keep more of their residue from reaching the river and the Willamette Cove side of the bridge. Sen Wyden has tried several times to procure funds for a more complete cleanup of that site, but has been unsuccessful. It remains fenced off.

    On the far side of the river downstream from the railroad bridge Gasco’s large plume marks the location of their contribution to the superfund site.

    Business as usual around the river in the days before EPA and DEQ.

  10. Does anyone know what the big row of things are near the bottom of the photo in the water that stick 90 degrees to the shore? Some type of pontoons?

  11. Mike:

    Indeed they are pontoons carrying a large dredge pipe, linked in sections to pump the main river bottom into mocks bottom.

  12. Bob S nailed his description of the old days at Swanee…grew up in the south Overlook district and attended Beach elementary which is up on the hill to the east on Humboldt street.

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