11 thoughts on “SW 1st Avenue, 1894

  1. Businessmen mucking through knee-deep floodwaters during the June 1894 great flood — the Willamette’s worst flood ever. Waters were 5 ft. high in some downtown locations and streets became canals! I love that handsome dog in the wagon — high and maybe dry for now, but looks like he got wet. This and other floods led to te construction of the seawall in the 1920s.

  2. Oregon National Bank, N. E. corner 1st and Stark Streets in Cree’s Building built by William Cree in 1865. Across First Street on the N. W. corner 1st and Stark Streets is the massive Union Block built in 1879 by Henry Corbett and Henry Failing.

  3. My husband’s grandmother was 6 years old, born on NW 3rd and Couch in 1888. She retold stories to her children and grandchildren of canoeing with her Dad during this flood and what an adventure it was!

  4. That’s a sharp u-turn in progress. All the men are having a blast wading thru the water; great fun.

  5. I always love these old flood pics, not sure why, but especially 1894. I imagine some of the legends, like Erickson’s floating bar barge on Burnside, somebody catching a salmon in Union Station. And, I see far more n’er-do-wells than legit businessmen. One even appears to point a pistol, though I’m trying to imagine not. The wagon man and dog do seem a cut above, able to afford dryness. The driver is executing a hard left turn, that’s quite a turning radius on those two-horse trolleys wagons.

    As said, this is the record high crest for the downtown Willamette, a tidal river, which is measured in feet. At the time of this post, the downtown Willamette is about 5ft, flood stage is 18ft, and 33ft in today’s pic–I’m not sure if 33ft is high enough to completely negate any tidal effect, but normally the Willamette goes up and down several feet twice a day. Besides live data, you can find all the historic flood levels and more listed in the official NWS Willamette@Portland hydrology page:


  6. This historic image provides context for our small Queen Ann home which was built in 1894 on NW Savier Street. Similar horse trolley’s passed our house and a horse trolley barn was located at NW 28th and Savier.

    I appreciate the link to historic flood hydrology date on the Willamette.

  7. Those men aren’t wearing polyester. They are wearing wool and soaking wet. Can’t understand why it would be necessary to wade around in the water.

  8. I-m sure not very healthy either, wading through water mixed with all the horse poop from the service animals.

  9. To add to Thorn’s flood comments: The 1894 flood was primarily caused by the Columbia River flooding and backing up into the Willamette. The 1890 flood was caused by snow melt and several days of very heavy rain in the Willamette Valley. Called a “freshet” the 1890 flood was considered by some to be the highest true flood of the Willamette.

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