Ross Island Bridge Approach, circa 1926

A house being removed for the construction of west Ross Island Bridge approach, circa 1926. You can see another house set to be demolished for the construction of the approach in a previous post by clicking here.


City of Portland (OR) Archives, A2009-009.494.


View this image in Efiles by clicking here.

19 thoughts on “Ross Island Bridge Approach, circa 1926

  1. It looks like the house is going to be moved. I wonder if anyone can find the new location? They usually didn’t move them very far. The old address appears to be “724”.

  2. I LOVE the attention to detail on this house—the porch railing, the balustrade and roof brackets. On closer look, I noticed the downspouts. This was a well constructed house. Think about the family Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners! I’m a sucker for nostalgia.

  3. I once had a three-story dutch colonial from 1907 in Eureka, CA. These fine old homes are wonderful to live in, one feels not only connected to the past but feels compelled to preserve and care for them due to their historical significance.

  4. No Emerret moving back in 1926. How did they move houses like this back then? Looks like some sort of wheeled trailer thing there on the left at the street.

  5. Mike, long winded explanation:
    I suspect the moving process went like this: Firstly they jack up the house (probably at this step when the photo was taken). Then they slide large timbers under the house, then jack the timbers up to take the weight of the structure and continue raising until there is enough room to slide more timbers under the the house on the ground that will become the “road” for the trip. Then, they put the trailer like things on the left (called dollies) on top of the timbers on the ground – they will roll easily on the hard surface, which is pitched slightly uphill in the direction of travel. Then the timbers that are supporting the house are lowered onto the dollies. At that point, the structure is ready to roll.

    Your second question was basically “where does the force come from to make the thing move?” Three possibilities come to mind. The oldest way is to use a capstan winch which is turned by an animal like a horse or ox. This device was informally known as a stump puller, its main use. Another possibility is a steam donkey, a large winch, which was still being used at that time to skid logs in the woods, although they are heavy and difficult to move. Lastly, crawler tractors were at last practical for this type of work in 1926 and could be driven to the job site. The heavy trucks like Emmert uses to tow houses now weren’t common until the mid to late 1930’s.

    Hope this helps.

  6. Beth,
    What about the house next to the one on google street view? It might be the same one next to the subject house in today’s photo. It looks the same except for the dormer and roof deck which could have been added later. ??

  7. I checked on PortlandMaps…235 SW Whitaker has plumbing permits from 1926 that indicate that this house was moved. In 1908 the records for this same house list the address 728 or 730 Corbett Street.

  8. Good to see that they did move some of them rather than demolish. Even today the process is an engineering feat. Imagine back then it was even more so with the crude equipment of those days.

  9. Who’s on First.: what is the bottom line? are these houses being moved in ,not being moved out, as first stated on the picture.? Love the houses and that they were saved.. Ron’s description of moving structures at that time is great. and all the research and knowledge. Great minds…….Thanks

  10. The historic plumbing permits on portlandmaps state that both houses were moved to Whitaker from SW Corbett, so the picture shows them in their new location meaning the caption should be changed to indicate that and to provide the address.

  11. Susan – the third house in the photo, behind these two that were relocated, is definitely not the house that is currently next to them on Whitaker (a duplex). That duplex was built in 1880, according to PortlandMaps. I think this photo is of the original location on Corbett.

  12. From the old permit (1908) the homes owner is listed as Herman Heitkemper who was the owner Heitkemper Cigar Factory, but on later plumbing permits shows his son John Heitkemper as the owner. From 1925 news articles John Heitkemper was against the alignment of the West end of the Ross Island Bridge, he and others wanted the alignment to go straight up Woods Street. From the US Census of 1920 John Heitkemper now owned the Cigar Factory and his fathers former home at 734 Corbett, and he also owned a rooming house at 151 Porter. The 1930 US Census now shows John Heitkemper with a Kelly Street address, but it indicates this address is where Kelly & Whitaker intersect. Multnomah County voter registration for John Heitkemper before the bridge construction place 734 Corbett as being between Meade & Porter streets, or between Meade & Hooker streets, so the homes in the streetview from today were right in the path of the West side exit to the Ross Island Bridge.

  13. I went back and looked at the 1930 US Census and it shows John Heitkemper lived at 141 Whitaker, which is the address from the 1926 plumbing permits. Today it is the corner house SW Whitaker & SW Kelly.

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