Portland to Oregon City

The Eastside Railway Company

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(Forwarded from the Oregon Water Power & Railway)

The Eastside Railway Company was a fifteen-mile line that operated from Portland to Oregon City. It was built in 1893 and is believed to be the first interurban railroad line in the United States to use electricity that was generated by water power. Originally an interurban, the line was almost entirely passenger traffic during its first decade.

It was sold to a number of different companies during its existence. The first was the Oregon Water Power & Railway. Then it was soon sold to the Portland Railway Light and Power Company. Then lastly, the Portland Traction Company. The latter operated it for many years as a freight operation, using traffic generated in Milwaukie and interchanging with the SP in Oregon City. It was sold to Union Pacific in the 1980s, who retained ownership of the property, but removed the ties and rails around 1993.

Today, much of the line is visible. The old bridge over the Clakamas River is still intact except for its eastern approach. In unincorporated Oak Grove, the line is very visible as it is the grassy divider in the middle of the main road. Portland Metro purchased the property from Union Pacific in 2001 with hopes that in the future it could be developed into a trail.

Towns along the line were Portland, Milwaukie, Oak Grove, Gladstone, and Oregon City.

Thanks to Brian Edwards for contributing information about this route.

The rails of the Oregon City Line (Eastside Railway) were removed around 1970-71, though actual abandonment occurred in 1968. Passenger (and electric) service ended in Jan 1958.

Sheldon Perry
Lake Grove, OR
1/8/2011

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Does anyone know when passenger service on the Oregon City (Eastside) line ended? My father took a number of us young boys on the line for my birthday party in the 1950's. I have a memory of him telling us the service was about to end....

Ed Cole
Nashville, TN
2/21/2011

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Passenger service ended in 1958, freight in 1968. It is now all redone as the Trolley trail. It has a nice website.

Scott Johnson
Oregon City, OR
9/11/2012

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Part of this line still exists in downtown OC--there is a short spur off the UP mainline that passes through the (now-defunct) Blue Heron mill, actually crosses OR99E at grade, and runs down Main Street for a block.

EngineerScotty
Beaverton, OR
1/29/2014

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The line briefly extended south from Oregon City into Canemah, the first town upstream from the falls. The diamond is in SP timetable of 1929 one mile south of the OC depot. I have two pictures of cars in downtown Canemah on what is now highway 99E, one of which is in "Portland's Interurban Railway" by Richard Thompson on page 38. The extension was brief and soon cut back to just below the diamond and used for access to Canemah Park.

Kenn Lantz
Clackamas, OR
9/27/2015

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