13 thoughts on “Mt. Tabor, 1956

  1. Exact location is a bit of a mystery. I thought it was where SE Salmon and SE Reservoir Loop meet but there seems to be too much of Reservoir 6 visible.

  2. The youth Soapbox Derby course on Mt. Tabor was built in 1956 and was used until 1965. The PDX Adult Soapbox Derby was first run in 1997.

    I’ve only attended one race, back in 2018. It was pretty wild and it was free. There is now an admission charge of $20.

    Way back in the dark ages of 1994 Paul Zenk happened to find himself in the nose-bleeding altitude of Bernal Heights in the heart of the Mission District of San Francisco. The fog lifted, revealing a mass of strange creatures, some with dreaded hair, others bald as babies, some wearing post-industrial attire while others just roamed around in their mid-90’s punk shirts and ripped and stained pants. The females were sporting multi-colored hair and wearing anything from overalls to skimpy sundresses and combat boots. But that was not a shocking sight. Out in the distance, the sound of rolling thunder filled the air. The road that wound its way around this urban Volcano was beginning to shake. Loose gravel was vibrating under their feet. Then through the fog came wheeled demons. Men on monster machines completely powered only by gravity tore past the screaming hordes, some cars smashing into others. Throwing the daring riders into the blood-filled air and onto the merciless concrete. Another car lost control and sped into the spectators and off the cliff, while still, some made it to the bottom and into victory and legend.
    The crowd was in a maelstrom, pouring beer over each other and raising their fist to the heavens.
    Paul was hooked.

    Two years later in the City of Roses, He sat in the Horse Brass Pub with his partner in crime Eric Foren, and revealed his amazing adventure in the Bay Area. A thought then came into his beer buzzed head. Why the F$#@!! do we not do that here? But where? Wait-they were sitting on their very own urban volcano called it Mt.Tabor!! This is where the fires from hell could be released onto the field of battle. So they plotted and schemed over the next year. They pulled in a small crew of riders, nothing near what was tearing down the hills of S.F., but a dedicated group that was ready to build, drink, and race.

    And so it began. In the heat of the summer of 1997, six men climbed to the top of Mt Tabor pulling their creations of death and destruction behind them. It was early in the day yet the smell of beer and sweat already filled the air. They lined their impossible vehicles up and strapped on their glasses, helmets and the Portland Adult Soapbox Derby was born. Mt. Tabor, and, for that matter, Portland, Oregon, would never be the same.

    Portland Adult Soapbox Derby, now a 501(c)(3), is working hard to raise money to rebuild the Youth Soapbox Derby track on Mt. Tabor.

    It has been decommissioned since the late ’50s.

    The youth Soapbox Derby course on Mt. Tabor was built in 1956 and was used until 1965. The PDX Adult Soapbox Derby was first run in 1997.

  3. The 1956 Portland Soap Box Derby was viewed by thousands and was held on the new Mt. Tabor track on July 21-22, 1956, and was won by 15 year old Roger Adams of SE 72nd Ave. punching his ticket to compete in the National Soap Box Derby in Akron Ohio on August 6, 1956.

    The limited crowd in this photo indicates it was likely taken on July 14-15, 1956 when more than 200 boys had their cars inspected and trial runs were made preparatory to race day on July 21-22. After the cars passed inspection they were impounded at Mt. Tabor school until race day.

  4. The Soap Box Derby track is still there, but it’s been a long time since the lanes were painted, so it’s difficult to recognize as such, but it’s the strip of asphalt directly east of Reservoir 5 — William is correct about the location. For a while a few years back, Google Maps had it mislabeled as Reservoir Loop Dr, I actually wrote to them to get that corrected.

    It looks like the photo was taken from the south end of the track looking north.

  5. I have always wondered what that strip of asphalt was for. It looks like an abandoned road that doesn’t connect to anything.

  6. Chris Slama: I read the article and watched the video. What is the connection to childhood soapbox derby in 1956 other than they occurred in the decade?

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