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Travel To and From The Oaks

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The Oaks (circa 1909) - courtesy of Mark Moore


How or when the isthmus of land (connected to the mainland on the South side), now known as Oaks Park, was formed is not known. There were arrowheads found in the early years and it was rumored the land was used by a dairy to graze cattle in years before Oregon Water Power & Railroad purchased it. In the early 1920's, Edward Bollinger counted the growth rings on an oak tree that had been blown down in a storm. It was determined that tree was at least 340 years old.

Originally, there were only 20 acres of land; however, landfills increased The Oaks to 44.1 acres of land. The fill, about 15 feet deep, starts at the North end of the Park (around the roller rink) then continues between the backs of the buildings and the railroad tracks to the West and South property lines.

The Oregon Water Power & Railroad Co. built The Oaks as a "streetcar" or "trolley" park to increase the ridership on their lines to Oregon City, Bellrose & Estacada. They opened the park 2 days before the Lewis & Clark World's Fair in Guilds Lake (close to Linton a little Northwest of St. Johns).

The Oaks Flyer


Street car loading at SW 1st and Alder in downtown Portland for trip to The Oaks

When the park opened, the only way visitors could get to it were streetcar, boat and horse. An easement was planned along the railroad tracks so people could come into the park by auto as soon as a road was built. This easement gave members of the Oregon Yacht Club access to their docks as well.

During its heyday, the streetcars would carry as many as 16,000 people to the Oaks on a weekend. Special Streetcars traveled only to The Oaks, dropping the passengers at The Oaks Station then taking a loop track and head back to Portland for more passengers.

The Eastside Mill & Lumber Co. or Sellwood Lumber Company did business on the South side of The Oaks. Through the late 1990's, broken pilings of their log dump could be seen when the Willamette River is low. The log dump was situated along the south property line with the mill buildings on the South side of the log dump.

Sellwood Ferry was in service until the Sellwood Bridge was built (circa 1925). It is shown docked on Oaks side (East) of Willamette River South of Eastside Mill & Lumber Co. or the Sellwood Lumber Company (see Sellwood History & Profile)

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Updated 10.05.2014 |