The Streetcars of North Portland, Oregon
Streetcars were both early and late arrivals in North Portland, Oregon. The first electric streetcars in the state began rolling across the original Steel Bridge into the city of Albina in November 1889. Within a few months, these pioneering trolleys were connecting with a steam railway then under construction to the town of St. Johns. Yet, travel on this longest of lines remained in two parts until the entire St. Johns Line was electrified in 1903. In the meantime, streetcar lines had been built to serve emerging neighborhoods in Upper Albina, Lower Albina, Ockley Green, Piedmont, and Overlook. Trolleys would soon reach the company town of Kenton. By 1905, nine North Portland lines were operating out of the finest and most completely equipped carhouse in the Northwest. This is the story of those classic lines, from the first electrics in 1889, to the last steam motors in 1903, and from Portland’s final new streetcar line in 1920, to the arrival of trolley buses in the 1940s. A final chapter brings the saga up to date with the return of streetcars there in 2004.
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