Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"St. Johns, Oregon"
Includes ... St. Johns ... St. Johns Bridge ... Cathedral Park ...
Image, 2005, St. Johns Bridge, click to enlarge
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St. Johns Bridge and Cathedral Park, Oregon. Cathedral Park lies underneath the St. Johns Bridge. On April 3, 1806, Captain Clark explored the Willamette River upstream as far as the St. Johns Bridge. Image taken November 20, 2005.


St. Johns, Oregon ...
St. Johns, Oregon, is located on the Willamette River at River Mile (RM) 6, two miles downstream from Portland and only two and one-half miles upstream from the head of the Multnomah Channel and Sauvie Island. Today the community of St. Johns is home to Cathedral Park and the eastern end of the St. Johns Bridge, the area furthest up the Willamette explored by Captain Clark in April 1806. The community is also home to the St. Johns Theatre and Pub, a building which was the National Cash Register Company's Exhibit Hall at the 1905 Lewis and Clark Exposition, in Portland, Oregon.

Lewis and Clark and St. Johns ...
In 1986, Captain Clark explored the Willamette River as far the area of today's St. Johns, and on April 2, 1806, the party spent the night just downstream of today's St. Johns Bridge at the location of today's Terminal 4.
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Early St. Johns ...
The community of St. Johns was named after James John, an early settler who came to Oregon in 1842. James John first settled in the Linnton area, then a few years later moved downstream to the area of today's St. Johns. In 1850 Johns laid out some lots and operated a store. In 1852 he began the ferry run to Linnton with one rowboat, a ferry run which in 1931 would be replaced by the St. Johns Bridge. The St. Johns Post Office was established in August 1873. In 1915 the town of St. Johns was annexed to Portland, Oregon, and, in 1990 the St. Johns Post Office became a branch of the Portland Post Office.

Street Scenes ...

Image, 2011, St. Johns, Oregon, click to enlarge
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"Welcome to Historic St. Johns", St. Johns, Oregon. View from moving car. Image taken March 11, 2011.
Image, 2012, St. Johns, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Assumption Village, St. Johns, Oregon. View from moving car. Image taken January 11, 2012.

Once the Assumption Parrish, the nearly 100-year-old chapel is now part of the Assumption Retirement Village, a 109-unit village (2002) built by the Archdiocese of Portland. The Village opened its doors in 2002.
Image, 2015, St. Johns, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Storage container, St. Johns, Oregon. View from moving car. Image taken February 11, 2015.
Image, 2013, Sign, Terminal 4, St. Johns, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Sign to Terminal 4, St. Johns, Oregon. Image taken January 2, 2013.
Image, 2015, St. Johns, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Towards the St. Johns Bridge, St. Johns, Oregon. Image taken April 20, 2015.


St. Johns, etc.

  • Carson Ellis Mural ...
  • Cathedral Park ...
  • Harvey Scott, 1890 ...
  • St. Johns Bridge ...
  • St. Johns Theatre and Pub ...
  • St. Johns to Linnton Ferry ...
  • Terminal 4 ...
  • World War I Shipbuilding ...
  • World War II Kaiser Shipyard ...


Carson Ellis Mural ...
The Carson Ellis mural in St. Johns, Oregon, was unveiled in May 2013 with the hope it would deter graffiti taggers. The mural is located on the side of the Grocery Outlet store on the southeast edge of town.

"St. Johns residents Jennifer Levy and Robert Petty recruited acclaimed "Wildwood" illustrator Carson Ellis to help design a 50-feet by 10-feet mural that tracks St. Johns' history from natural forest scape to charming town. They raised a considerable amount of money, including a $10,000 grant from the Regional Arts and Culture Council. Veteran mural artist Whitney Anderson rendered Ellis's mythical-inspired design ont he side of the St. Johns Grocery Outlet last May." [Casey Parks, "OregonLive.com" website, February 2014]

According to the "Portland Mercury" online news:

"At 50 feet by 10 feet, there's lots of room for Ellis's signature shimsy: mythic creatures, sprightly mushrooms, old-timey technology, AND, wait for it ... a hidden R2-D2!!. It's wonderful."

In the fall of 2013 a group of students from the St. Johns elementary and middle schools spent two weekends painting the building bricks to the right of the mural in 20-feet by 20-feet pixelated versions of a few of the images from the first mural.

[More]


Image, 2016, St. Johns, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Carson Ellis mural, St. Johns, Oregon. View from moving car. Image taken October 22, 2016.
Image, 2013, St. Johns, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Carson Ellis Mural, St. Johns, Oregon. View from moving car. Image taken November 21, 2013.


Cathedral Park ...
Cathedral Park is an urban day-use park located in St. Johns, Oregon, at approximately Willamette River Mile (RM) 6. The park, located under the eastern end of the St. Johns Bridge, was once a dumping ground for junk. Today Cathedral Park is a popular picnicing and fishing location. On the downstream side of the bridge there is a community boat ramp.
[More]

Image, 2005, Cathedral Park and the St. Johns Bridge, click to enlarge
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Cathedral Park and the St. Johns Bridge. Cathedral Park lies underneath the St. Johns Bridge. On April 3, 1806, Captain Clark explored the Willamette River upstream as far as the St. Johns Bridge. Image taken November 20, 2005.
Image, 2011, Cathedral Park, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Belgian blocks underneath park bench, Cathedral Park, St. Johns, Oregon. Image taken November 28, 2011.


Harvey Scott, 1890 ...
"On the Willamette and the Columbia, numberless other points strove to become place. ... Below the present site of Portland, on the right bank of the Willamette, was St. Johns, founded by John Johns, whose brick store is still a conspicuous mark on the green slope of this beautiful little spot. At the head of Sauvies' Island was Linnton, a most ambitious point, established as early as 1844 by M.M. McCarver, with the assistance of Peter Burnett, both of whom were brainy and stalwart men, famous in early history. ... Near the mouth of the Willamette Slough was Milton, founded in 1846 by Captain Nathaniel Crosby. On the Oregon shore opposite the lower end of Sauvies' Island where the lower mouth of the Willamette unites with the Columbia was set St. Helens on a natural site of great beauty. It was established about 1845-46 by Captain Knighton and others."


Source:    Harvey Whitefield Scott, 1890, "History of Portland, Oregon: With Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Prominent Citizens and Pioneers: D. Mason & Company, Portland.


St. Johns Bridge ...
The St. Johns Bridge is a Gothic-style cable suspension bridge spanning the Willamette River at River Mile (RM) 6. It replaced the last Portland ferry, which ran between Linnton and St. Johns. Work began on the St. Johns Bridge in September 1929, was completed in May 1931, and dedicated in June. It connected St. Johns with Oregon Highway 30, the route between Portland and Astoria. The Tualatin Mountains rise above the western end of the bridge. The bridge is reminiscent of a Gothic Cathedral.
[More]

Image, 2006, St. Johns Bridge, click to enlarge
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St. Johns Bridge, Oregon. Heading northeast to St. Johns, Oregon. Image taken February 5, 2006.


St. Johns Theatre and Pub ...
Today's St. Johns Theatre and Pub building, located in St. Johns, Oregon, was originally the National Cash Register Company's (NCR) exhibit auditorium and lecture pavilion at the 1905 Lewis and Clark Exposition. The building was a small but impressive palace, with cupola, pillared portico, colorful flags, and a tall, goddess-like statue.
[More]

Image, 2006, St. Johns Pub, St. Johns, Oregon, click to enlarge
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St. Johns Theatre and Pub, St. Johns, Oregon. Once the National Cash Register Building at the 1905 Lewis and Clark Exposition. Image taken February 5, 2006.


St. Johns to Linnton Ferry ...
"... [on the] St. Johns ferry, cross [the Willamette] to the Linnton road. The ferry is free and runs back and forth constantly, entrailing but little delay. In planning the trip it should be remembered that the second Sunday of each month is "boiler day" for the ferry, however, and it is not in operation. An excellent view is secured of the lower harbor and the splendid municipal terminals at St. Johns."


Source:    "Sunday Oregonian", May 22, 1921, courtesy Historic Oregon Newspapers Archives, Univeristy of Oregon Libraries, 2016.


Terminal 4 ...
Portland's Terminal 4 is located on the Willamette River in St. Johns, Oregon, at Willamette River Mile (RM) 5. Terminal 4 was the location of Captain Clark's campsite of April 3, 1806, as he explored the Willamette.
[More]

Image, 2016, Terminal 4, Willamette River, click to enlarge
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Portland's Terminal 4 (cars), as seen from the St. John's Bridge crossing the Willamette River. Image taken September 29, 2016.


World War I Shipbuilding ...
According to the "shipbuilding.com" website (2016), the Grant Smith-Porter Ship Company began in 1917 with a yard in Aberdeen, Washington, and another yard in St. Johns, Oregon. Twenty-eight wooden cargo ship hulls were built at the St. Johns' yard between 1918 and 1919. The first ship leaving the yard in 1918 was the "Wasco".

"Grant Smith and Andrew Porter started the Grant Smith-Porter Ship Company in 1917 and by mid-1918 had 6000 employees in two yards - Andrew Petersen's shipyard in Aberdeen WA and a new yard in Portland OR. The Aberdeen yard was at 4th Avenue and B Street, where the Robert Gray Elementary School is today. The Portland yard was at the foot of North Saint Louis Avenue, in the St. Johns neighborhood."

"Kuwa. -- The Kuwa, a Government steamer of the Hough design, was launched from the yards of the Grant, Smith-Porter Ship Company on May 15, at St. Johns, Ore. The Kuwa is the eleventh, and the last of the Hough design sent down the ways by that company since February 17. She was launched in fifty days from the laying of the keel."


Source:    "The Nautical Gazette", June 1, 1918, Vol.93.

"An even two dozen hulls have left the ways at the Grant Smith-Porter plant since February 17, and 20 of them have been completed."


Source:    "Sunday Oregonian", November 10, 1918, courtesy Historic Oregon Newspapers Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, 2016.

FIRST GOVERNMENT WOODEN SHIP SAILS
Wasco's Departure Marks the Setting of Another "First" Record for Oregon.
STEAMER MOVES OFF WELL
Engines Work Finely and Speed Requirement is Exceeded --
Large Party of Guests Make Trip Down the River.

"Now, it's "Oregon First" on sea and land, for when the Grant Smith-Porter Company steamer Wasco left Portland for the sea last night she was the first wooden steamer ordered by the Emergency Fleet Corporation to get into service. Yards in every part of the United States were striving for the honor and the glory which is Oregon's marks it as one of the greatest achievements in war work.

The Wasco was one of the first keels laid by the big yard at St. Johns, and was officially designated at that place as hull number 250. Work actually began on her in October of last year. She was launched on February 17, not the first wooden hull to take to water, but that very nearly.

Even as the invited guests of the builders began arriving at the yard at St. Johns yesterday morning to witness her departure, men were still putting on the final touches, storing away supplies, or adding this and that. Electricians and other mechanics could be seen working away and yet when she steamed away from the dock she was a completed vessel, every detail in strictest accord with the demands of the sea. ...

Her first trip down the river showed that she would easily surpass the 10 knots specified by the Government. She made 12 and according to her master was not nearly utilizing the full driving force of her engines. ..."


Source:    "Sunday Oregonian" (Portland, Or.), June 9, 1918, courtesy Historic Oregon Newspapers Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, 2016.


Image, 2006, St. Johns, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Empress of the North docked at St. Johns, Oregon. View from the boat launch at Cathedral Park. Image taken February 5, 2006.

The Empress is docked at the location of the World War I shipyard, the Grant Smith-Porter Ship Company.
Image, 2016, Terminal 4, Willamette River, click to enlarge
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View downstream from the St. John's Bridge crossing the Willamette River. Between Terminal 4 (cars) and the St. Johns Bridge lies the location of the World War I shipyard Grant Smith-Porter Ship Company. Image taken September 29, 2016.


World War II Kaiser Shipyard ...
During World War II, three Kaiser-owned shipyards were located along the Columbia and Willamette Rivers. One was located along the Columbia River in Washington State at Ryan Point (Kaiser Shipyard, Vancouver, Washington), and two were located along the Willamette River in Oregon. One was located in St. Johns (Oregon Shipbuilding Yard) and the other on Swan Island (Swan Island Yard). On September 27, 1941, the Oregon Shipbuilding Yard launched the region's first liberty ship near the St. Johns bridge.
[More]

"During World War II, up to 125,000 people worked in around-the-clock shifts at shipyards in Portland and Vancouver, Washington. ... At the OSC yards (Oregon Shipbuilding Corporation, St. Johns, Oregon), as many as 35,000 workers built 435 ships for the U.S. Maritime Commission, including military tankers, aircraft carriers, and Liberty and Victory Ships used to transport goods and people to the war front. The OSC was one of three shipyards in Portland and Vancouver owned by Henry Kaiserís Kaiser Corporation."


Source:    Kathy Tucker, 2002, Oregon Historical Society, Oregon History Project Website, 2016.



"The Golden Age of Postcards" ...

The early 1900s was the "Golden Age of Postcards", with the "Penny Postcard" being a popular way to send greetings to family and friends. Today the Penny Postcard has become a snapshot of history.

Penny Postcard, St. Johns Bridge with the U.S.S. Portland, ca.1930, click to enlarge
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Penny Postcard: The U.S.S. Portland crossing beneath the St. Johns Bridge, Willamette River, ca.1930. Penny Postcard, ca.1930, "U.S.S. Portland Passing Under St. Johns Bridge, Portland, Oregon.". The caption on the back reads: "The St. John's Bridge was completed in June, 1931, at a cost of $4,250,000 and its span of 205 feet above the Willamette River is sufficient to allow any type of vessel to pass under it. The Bridge is 3,833 feet in length. Image Copyright Angelus. Published by Angelus Commercial Studio, Portland, Oregon. Card #27. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, April 2, 1806 ...


Whitehouse, April 2, 1806 ...





Clark, April 3, 1806 ...




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*River Miles [RM] are approximate, in statute miles, and were determined from USGS topo maps, obtained from NOAA nautical charts, or obtained from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website, 2003

Sources:
  • "Catholic Sentinel" website, May 2002, retrieved July 2015;
  • Center for Columbia River History website, 2006;
  • Hay, K.G., 2004, The Lewis and Clark Columbia River Water Trail, Timber Press, Portland;
  • McArthur, L.A., and McArthur, L.L., 2003, Oregon Geographic Names, Oregon Historical Society Press, Portland;
  • Oregon Department of Transportation website, 2006;
  • "OregonLive.com" website, October 2013 and February 2014, retrieved July 2015;
  • "Portland Mercury" online news, May 2013, retrieved July 2015;
  • Portland Parks and Recreation website, 2006;
  • Sawhill, C., and Kirkpatrick, G., 2000, Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation, Oregon Chapter, June 2000 Newsletter, vol.2, no.3;
  • Scott, H.W., 1890, "History of Portland, Oregon: With Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Prominent Citizens and Pioneers: D. Mason & Company, Portland;
  • "Shipbuilding.com" website, 2016;


All Lewis and Clark quotations from Gary Moulton editions of the Lewis and Clark Journals, University of Nebraska Press, all attempts have been made to type the quotations exactly as in the Moulton editions, however typing errors introduced by this web author cannot be ruled out; location interpretation from variety of sources, including this website author.
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July 2015