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Catalog No. —
CN 019512
Date —
Era —
1846-1880 (Treaties, Civil War, and Immigration)
Themes —
Geography and Places
Credits —
Oregon Historical Society
Regions —
Portland Metropolitan
Author —

East Portland, 1874

This slough drained Hawthorne Springs near Southeast Oak Street. Because much of it was marshy and crisscrossed by creeks and sloughs, land on the east side of the Willamette River was less desirable than riverfront property in Portland-proper. Such conditions made development more difficult and expensive since streets often had to be built on trestles. These obstacles to development of the east side did not deter early settlers from staking claims, however. 

In 1845, James B. Stephens obtained 640 acres directly across from the Portland townsite, and a few years later, Gideon Tibbetts filed under the Donation Land Act for 640 acres south of what is now Division Street in Southeast Portland. Tibbetts started the first flourmill on the east side of the Willamette river, planted extensive orchards, and raised hay on part of his claim. He laid out the town of Brooklyn and platted an addition to the town of East Portland. He eventually sold some parcels of his land and his flour mill to Stephens.

It was Stephens who was responsible for the incorporation of the City of East Portland in 1871. He also launched the first regular ferry service across the Willamette and owned the first regional cider mill, both of which were profitable ventures. In addition, Stephens’s waterfront property skyrocketed in value when the East-Side Oregon Central Railroad connecting East Portland and Salem arrived in 1869.

Further Reading:
MacColl, E. Kimbark. Merchants, Money and Power: The Portland Establishment 1843-1913. Portland, Oreg., 1988.

Labbe, John T. Fares Please! Those Portland Trolley Years. Caldwell, Idaho, 1980.

Dodds, Gordon. Oregon: A Bicentennial History. New York, N.Y., 1977.

Written by Trudy Flores, Sarah Griffith, © Oregon Historical Society, 2002.