22 thoughts on “Willamette River, 1935

  1. I hope someone will be able to pinpoint approximately where on the river this shot depicts; there are so many good sleuths on this site.

  2. I believe that is Columbia River in the top of the picture with Sauvie Island on the left and Kelley Point on the right. Correct?

  3. Barbara M, you are correct. I’m waiting for someone to embed a 3D Google Map. It’s been done before but I’m at a loss as how to do it. When I try I always get a 2D version of the location I searched for.

  4. According to Wikipedia, naval ships began visiting Portland starting in 1892 as part of civic celebrations. However, “Fleet Week” didn’t officially commence in Portland until 1936. Fleet Week started in San Diego, CA in 1935 as part of the California Pacific International Exhibition. In 1936 Portland had about 20 naval ships visiting during its first Fleet Week.

  5. The 1935 Rose Festival was held on June 6-7-8 but the Oregonian archives make no mention of Navy ships in Portland in this time period. The US Navy did send 10 ships for port visits to Portland and Vancouver Washington for a 4 day period for the July 4th holiday in 1935, the largest ship the cruiser USS Raleigh tied up near SW Stark along with 4 destroyers, and the additional 5 ships were tied up in Vancouver. The city’s first fleet week was in August of 1936.

  6. The river is running high like it would during its freshet, usually late spring/early summer, so I’d guess July and not August…unless 1935 had an exceptionally rainy summer.
    I love that the floodplain wetlands on both banks are not yet disconnected from the river, and mostly still intact. What a great resource it was.

  7. Undeveloped wetland makes sense, but I expected to see a more organic industrialization of St. Johns. Now I understand that the decision to make its downtown a freight route was unfortunate *and* intentional.

  8. mb, actually the river level looks fairly low. If you zoom in on the image you see the piling where the log rafts are tied are exposed high in addition the ships wheel wash is stirring up a bit of river bottom sediment. It could also be low tide, (Often in the old days the timing for the ships with taller masts arrival at the Steel Bridge would be maximum low tide to insure their masts would clear the open bridge deck)..

  9. Modern day shot would have Canpotex and Evraz Steel on that land to the right. Land in the foreground would be likely be the Knife River plant off Highway 30.

  10. Chris B.:
    The river’s elevation in this photo is at the ordinary high water mark, delineated by shoreline vegetation. During low water, these trees and shrubs would be dry. Any higher, and the mature trees would be in the river, which is not conducive to survival for very long.
    On an aside, certainly pre-dam hydrology was much different in the lower river than it is now; and river levels fluctuated more naturally back then. Perhaps that right bank floodplain was engaged a lot more frequently and the river did get higher than it is in this photo.
    Great observations.

  11. See USACE photo 1936-5860 which shows a very clear vertical shot taken in 1936. This USACE photo shows half of Linnton and Terminal 4. In the photo with ships, the 360-acre William Gatton DLC property would be partly visible at the right. That part was basically wetland. It became the site of the Oregon Shipyard ca. 1942.

  12. I’m surprised that no one has mentioned the large Benson log rafts that were moored on the river at the time of the photo. They were quite common years ago and a very economical way of transporting lumber to various locations on the west coast and elsewhere. They have an interesting history if you care to look them up!

  13. Justin, how did you get Google Maps to share the 3D map view and orientation? Every time I try this it just shares the 2D version.

  14. sssteven, If you copy and share the link it seems to save your position with 3D on, but embedding does not, that was the only difference that I could observe.

  15. This pic cannot be from 1935. The first ship in the lower right is a Farragut class destroyer. This entire class of ships was launched throughout 1935. The second ship in line looks like a Porter class. These ships were launched in early 1936. So the pic has to be from 1936.

  16. Mb . The trees in which you referring to are Black Cottonwood trees which are indigenous to the area and can survive long period of time with their roots submerged in fresh water.
    Again, i would encourage you to click on the image and zoom in on the log rafts that are tied off in the lower frame of the image. Look closely at the head dolphins of which they are tied. You will notice the lighter colored lower portions of each dolphin which indicates the huge tidal and high water ranges of those pre-dam days.

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