Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
Home Regions Campsites Penny Postcards My Corps of Discovery Image Index Links About This Site Main Menu
Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Vancouver to Orchards to Sifton Streetcar Line, Vancouver, Washington"
Includes ... Vancouver ... Orchards ... Sifton ... Streetcar ... Trolley ...
Image, 2006, Mural, Fourth Plain, Orchards, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Orchards mural, Sifton-Orchards Streetcar No.5. Image taken November 25, 2006.

A photograph in the Clark County Historical Museum's collection names this man as being George Wall.


Vancouver to Orchards to Sifton Streetcar Line ...
According to Battle Ground's The Reflector (October 15, 2003), the Sifton-Orchards Streetcar (also known as the Orchards-Sifton Streetcar or Orchards-Sifton Trolley) use to make 10 stops from Vancouver to Orchards to Sifton. One of the stops included the Orchards Feed Mill, the oldest building still standing in the Orchards area.

A route map in David Warren Freece's "A history of the street railway systems of Vancouver, Washington, 1889-1926" (1984, Master's Thesis, Portland State University) shows a route of the line, beginning in Vancouver on 33rd Street (location of the "Car Barns") east of St. Johns Blvd., crossing Burnt Bridge Creek to Falk (at Falk Road) and then to Stapleton (at Stapleton Road). From there the line curved northeast, the stops being Sparks, Jaggy, Roney, Bonzo, Hartfield, Parkway, Orchards, Gehr (at Gehr Road), and ending at Sifton. The tracks were located to the north of Fourth Plain Blvd. Today Washington State Route 500 follows nearly the same route.

The terminus of the streetcar line was the small community of Sifton.

"Sifton, terminus of the Oregon-Washington Corporation's electric line from Vancouver, in the southern part of Clarke County. It was named about 1908 for Doctor Sifton, of Portland, Oregon, one of the original stockholders in the company. (Chauney Price, of Sifton, in Names MSS. Letter 181.)" ... [Edmond S. Meany, 1923, Origin of Washington Geographic Names, University of Washington Press.]

According to Pat Jollota in "Downtown Vancouver" (2004):

p.60 ... "In 1905 the Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition opened in Portland. ... Work had already begun on the railroad bridge, and the North Bank line was under construction. At the same time Vancouver began laying tracks for a streetcar line that would reach Orchards and Sifton; it opened on September 26, 1908."

p.73 ... "The Orchards Sifton streetcar line opened with great fanfare on September 26, 1908. The route from Vancouver roughly followed today's State Route 500. The line lasted until 1925, carrying not only passengers, but freight from the river to Orchards."

However David Warren Freece's "A history of the street railway systems of Vancouver, Washington, 1889-1926" gives 1910 as the year the line opened to Sifton (1984, Master's Thesis, Portland State University).

"In July [1908] the Vancouver Traction Company received permission from the county commissioners to extend its line beyond Vancouver Heights, east to St John Road. A site was chose there to build its car barns ... By September 1, 1908, the line was completed through the city. ... To build the line to Orchards, the Vancouver Suburban Railway Company was incorporated on June 22, 1909. ... On Sunday, March 24, 1910, the line was opened from the car barns to Jaggy Road (now N.E. Andresen Road). ... On May 15th the line to Orchards was officially opened. ... The street railway that began operation in 1908, and was extended to Sifton in 1910 ..."

According to the "Ninth Annual Report of the Public Service Commission of Washington to the Governor" (1919, State of Washington), the Vancouver - Orchards - Sifton line was 5.52 miles in length from the eastern edge of the Vancouver city limits, and 8.87 miles in length from the Interstate bridge.

"The North Coast Power Company is a corporation organized and existing under the laws of the State of Washington and wons, controls, operates and manages a street railway and interurban railway system for hire in the city of Vancouver, Washington, and vicinity thereof in Clarke county. ...

The line of railway known as the Sifton line ... extends from the city limits of Vancouver eastward to the station of Sifton, a distance of 5.52 miles from the east city limits, from said city limits into the city of Vancouver a distance of 3.35 miles, making a total length of line of 8.87 miles from Sifton station to the approach of the interstate bridge in Vancouver."

  • Vancouver ... 0.0 miles
  • City Limits ... 3.35 miles
  • Falk ... 3.71 miles
  • Stapleton ... 4.36 miles
  • Sparks ... 4.75 miles
  • Jaggy ... 5.29 miles
  • Roney ... 5.75 miles
  • Bonzo ... 6.15 miles
  • Hartfield ... 6.62 miles
  • Park Way ... 7.35 miles
  • Orchards ... 7.50 miles
  • Gehr ... 7.92 miles
  • Sifton ... 8.87 miles

Freece, 1984 Master's Thesis ...
"In July [1908] the Vancouver Traction Company received permission from the county commissioners to extend its line beyond Vancouver Heights, east to St John Road. A site was chose there to build its car barns where the street cars could be maintained and stored when not in use. (The building the company erected for this purpose still stands at the northwest corner of Thirty-third Street and St John Road.)

By September 1, 1908, the line was completed through the city. ...

To build the line to Orchards, the Vancouver Suburban Railway Company was incorporated on June 22, 1909. ...

With the financial arrangements settled, the task of building the line soon started. First the route had to be carefully selected. From the car barns the line was to run due east, crossing Burnt Bridge Creek at about one-quarter mile, continuing east for another mile and then turning northerly for the remainder of the distance. For most of this distance the line was to run just a few hundred feet north of Fourth Plain Road. The rights of way were acquired from the land owners for one dollar each in most cases.

The construction work began in early August about two miles east of the car barns. Fifteen thousand ties were ordered from the Harvey Milling Company but as these could not be delivered until the bridge was completed across Burnt Bridge Creek, another 3,500 were ordered for the east end of the line so that the absence of them would not restrict the construction. The contract for the 800 foot bridge was awarded ...

On Sunday, March 24, 1910, the line was opened from the car barns to Jaggy Road (now N.E. Andresen Road) and many people crowded the cars to try it. Unfortunately, there was a problem with a lack of power and many of those who came to ride were not able to do so while others were several hours on the ride.

On May 15th the line to Orchards was officially opened. A forty minute service was instituted and the work on the line to Sifton was continued with diligence. This construction was delayed due to a hold-up in the delivery of the trolley wire, but on June 30th service to Sifton began. Between the car barns and the end of the line a number of regular stops were established. Most of them were named after the land owners, upon whose property they were located, and the first one after the car bars was the Falk Station, followed by Stapleton, Jamison, Sparks, Jaggy, Roney, Bonzo, Hartfield, Parkway, Orchards, Gehr and Sifton. (These were to vary a bit through the years.) The fare to ride the street car from the Vancouver ferry to the end of the line at Sifton was fifteen cents, one-way. ...

The Portland Electric Power Company operated the line in the winter and spring of 1926. At the end of the summer, with dim prospects of the street railway every producing a profit, it was decided to discontinue the system. ...

A hearing was held on October 4th in which citizens were given an opportunity to express their views on the proposed abandonment. At the meeting, two merchants, one each from Sifton and Orchards, raised the strongest objections. They each had a feed store adjoining the railway tracks and were able to have their feed, primarily cracked corn, shipped directly to them from Portland at a cheap rate. ... If the street railway was discontinued, the two merchants would lose their competitive advantage, and would have to reorient their stores to the roads. ... The commissioners conclusion was ... "a public utility cannot be compelled to continue public service at a loss." Therefore, the company was granted permission to abandon its line. ... The final run to Sifton was made on October 11 ...

After the system ceased operation, the car barn at Thirty-third and St John Boulevard was used as a bus barn for many years. Now it houses an auto body shop. The trestle on Burnt Bridge Creek has long disappeared, but one can follow parts of the old right of way on Nicholson Road and N.E. Rosewood Avenue. In Orchards the feed store that was built alongside the railway tracks still stands [Note: other information says the Feed Store was built in 1889, see below.]. Kerr Avenue runs through Sifton; both community and street were named after principals of the Clarke County Development Company. Physical signs of the railway exist, but one has to look for them carefully. ...

The street railway that began operation in 1908, and was extended to Sifton in 1910, was not considered a large system as it never exceeded fifteen miles of track. ... The line to Sifton paralleled Fourth Plain Road, which had been in use long before the railway. Consequently the railway only enhanced the development of that area. ...


Source:    David Warren Freece, 1984, "A history of the street railway systems of Vancouver, Washington, 1889-1926", Master's Thesis, Portland State University.


Route Map ...

Image, 2006, Map, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Detail, ca.1922, Clark County map showing the western section of the Vancouver-Orchards-Sifton Streetcar line, with stops (red). Burnt Bridge Creek is in blue. Original map courtesy "Rootsweb.com" website, 2017.
Image, 2006, Map, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Detail, ca.1922, Clark County map showing the eastern section of the Vancouver-Orchards-Sifton Streetcar line, with stops (red). Original map courtesy "Rootsweb.com" website, 2017.


Vancouver to Orchards to Sifton Streetcar Line, etc.

  • Burnt Bridge Creek ...
  • "Car Barn", 33rd and St. Johns ...
  • Clark County Fair ...
  • Orchards Feed Mill ...


Burnt Bridge Creek ...
(to come)

Image, 2017, Vancouver to Orchards to Sifton Streetcar, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Detail, 1959, aerial photo, Burnt Bridge Creek and Bagley Downs, Vancouver, Washington. View showing Burnt Bridge Creek, NE 33rd St. (west side of Burnt Bridge Creek) and Nicholson Road (east/west, on east side of Burnt Bridge Creek), Falk Road (north/south on the right) and Bagley Downs. NE 33rd St. and Nicholson Road is the route of the old Vancouver - Orchards - Sifton streetcar line. Original image (P02.001.1153/AP00058.tif) courtesy Clark County Historical Museum Archives and Washington State University Vancouver Library, downloaded April 2017.


"Car Barn", 33rd and St. Johns ...
(to come)

Image, 2017, Vancouver to Orchards to Sifton Streetcar, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
33rd St. view, former streetcar "car barn", today ABRA Auto Body, Vancouver, Washington. Northwest corner of 33rd and St. Johns. Image taken April 13, 2017.
Image, 2017, Vancouver to Orchards to Sifton Streetcar, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
St. Johns Blvd. view, former streetcar "car barn", today ABRA Auto Body, Vancouver, Washington. Northwest corner of 33rd and St. Johns. Image taken April 21, 2017.
Image, 2017, Vancouver to Orchards to Sifton Streetcar, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Detail, 1959, aerial photo, northwest corner (circled) of St. Johns Blvd. (diagonal) and E. 33rd St. (east/west), Vancouver, Washington. View showing the old Vancouver - Orchards - Sifton "car barn". Original image (P02.001.1129/AP00049.tif) courtesy Clark County Historical Museum Archives and Washington State University Vancouver Library, downloaded April 2017.


Clark County Fair ...
According to Freece:

"The Clarke County Fair Association determined to take advantage of the interurban line shortly after it began operating. In the spring of 1911, ten acres were purchased on the Falk tract, east of Burnt Bridge Creek, and developed into a fairgrounds. The Washington - Oregon Corporation constructed a loop through the fairgrounds to facilitate the loading and unloading of passengers, and during the fair maintained a service from the ferry to the site every twenty minutes. The 1912 fair was quite successful for the railway but, according to railway manager George W. Ford, the 1913 one was lackluster and did not attract nearly as many people. He attributed this to the fact that the fair manager for this second year was a preacher who had "cut out everthing he could of a sporting nature, which injured attendance to a great extend." Nevertheless fair week proved a profitable time for the railway."


Orchards Feed Mill ...
[More]

Image, 2006, Orchards Feed Mill, Orchards, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Orchards Feed Mill, Orchards, Washington. Image taken November 25, 2006.
Image, 2017, Vancouver to Orchards to Sifton Streetcar, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Detail, 1959, aerial photo, Orchards Feed Mill (circled) and the path of the Vancouver - Orchards - Sifton streetcar tracks (heading right, now NE Rosewood Ave.), Vancouver, Washington. Original image (P02.001.1128/AP00084.tif) courtesy Clark County Historical Museum Archives and Washington State University Vancouver Library, downloaded April 2017.


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, ...
 




Vancouver PlainsReturn to
Menu
 



SNAKE RIVER CONFLUENCE | COLUMBIA PLATEAU
COLUMBIA RIVER GORGE | VANCOUVER PLAINS | JOURNEY TO THE PACIFIC
CAMPSITES


HOME | REGIONS | PENNY POSTCARDS | MY CORPS OF DISCOVERY
IMAGE INDEX | LINKS | ABOUT THIS SITE


COLUMBIA RIVER IMAGES - HOME
NORTHWEST JOURNEY - HOME
NORTHWEST BIRDING
RIDGEFIELD NWR - BIRDS
COMPLETE BIRD LIST - PHOTOS
THE BARLOW ROAD
THE COLUMBIA RIVER HIGHWAY
WILDFLOWERS and WEED BLOSSOMS



*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:    Battle Ground The Reflector, October 15, 2003 edition;    Clark County Historical Museum Photographs Collection, courtesy Washington State University Libraries, 2017;    Freece, D.W., Masters Thesis, 1984, "A history of the street railway systems of Vancouver, Washington, 1889-1926", Portland State University;    Jollota, P., 2004, Downtown Vancouver, Arcadia Publishing;    Meany, E.S., 1923, Origin of Washington Geographic Names, University of Washington Press    "Ninth Annual Report of the Public Service Commission of Washington to The Governor", 1919, State of Washington;    "Rootsweb.com" website, 2017;   

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.
ColumbiaRiverImages.com/Regions/Places/vancouver_orchards_sifton_streetcar.html
© 2016, Lyn Topinka, "ColumbiaRiverImages.com", All rights reserved.
Images are NOT to be downloaded from this website.
April 2017