10 thoughts on “Reservoir 5, 1910

  1. Great photo of construction of the kidney-shaped reservoir on the west slope of Mt. Tabor. For over 100 years these beautiful reservoirs on Mt. Tabor and in Washington Park on the westside of town supplied fresh, cold water to Portland residents and businesses. And what a wonderful system it was!

  2. The steam shovel was invented by William Otis, who received a patent for his design in 1839. The first machines were known as ‘partial-swing’, since the boom could not rotate through 360 degrees. They were built on a railway chassis, on which the boiler and movement engines were mounted. The shovel arm and driving engines were mounted at one end of the chassis, which accounts for the limited swing. Bogies with flanged wheels were fitted, and power was taken to the wheels by a chain drive to the axles. Temporary rail tracks were laid by workers where the shovel was expected to work and repositioned as required.

    This appears to be a Ruston 100 ton model. By 1925 lighter diesel-powered units were developed, equipped with their own caterpillar tracks; eliminating the need for rail tracks.

    One word “misery” describes the work these men did, slogging through sticky clay mud, and laying track for this mighty shovel.

  3. Note the small steam engine at the top of the photo. How did they get that heavy equipment up to Mt. Tabor? Was there a temporary rail line constructed from the lower elevations? Where did it originate? What was its approximate route?

    Also, it appears that the rear panel of the shovel says “Bucyrus”, which was a common brand in those days. The workers seem to be placing blocks under the shovel’s outrigger to stabilize it. Even with steam power, there was a lot of human power invested in construction projects back then.

  4. Ron, here’s a better shot of the steam line running to the reservoir. They built a temporary trestle that ran over to Division:

  5. Igor– On May 27, 2020 you posted the same photo and my comment from that date I identified this as a wooden flume that carried material from hydraulic sluicing that was used at the excavation of reservoir #5 to a ravine to the south of section line rd. (Division) and if you zoom in you will see the wooden sides of the flume. This info and more from my May 27th comment came from 1910 Oregonian stories.

  6. Thanks Dennis. I agree that the structure in Igor’s photo looks like a sluice and isn’t heavy enough to support a locomotive or steam shovel. It is really amazing what means The City went to undertake this very large project at that time. Contrast with the construction of the new reservoirs on Powell Butte a few years ago, which was practically invisible.

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