Portland Manor Houses & Willamette Shore Trolley
April 16-17, 1996
We departed SEHS at 8:00 am with a rest stop on I-5 at Tualatin, then drove along the north shore of Lake Oswego, which still shows the effects of the February flooding. Ewart Baldwin described the geology and topography plus a detailed description of how the Missoula-Spokane flood at the breakup of the last Ice Age some 12,000 years ago sculpted this area. The homes here are very nice, and we also had a drive through Marylhurst College for a quick look-see. At 11:00 we boarded the Willamette Shore Trolley for the two-hour round trip to Portland. This conveyance is actually a double-decker tram, 1902 vintage, and was used in Blackpool, England, until about 1952. The trolley operation is non-profit with 100% volunteer manpower. Their rail line suffered extensive damage this winter, with repair work continuing. The route is along the west bank of the Willamette through the upscale Dunthorpe neighborhood. Surprisingly, there is a long tunnel at Elk Rock and also a long trestle which is about 120 feet above a ravine. Quite an enjoyable ride; our motorman, Hal, was in full uniform and proved to be a well-informed and delightful guide-host. At 1:00 we lunched at Rogers City Park, on the original site of an iron smelter which operated for about 30 years in the late 19th Century; the architecturally-unique stack still remains. A rain shower dampened our spirits somewhat, and a few unidentified Obsidians ate on the bus! We crossed the river to the Sellwood and Eastmoreland districts, then to Crystal Springs Rhododendron Gardens, a city park located between Reed College and the Eastmoreland Golf Course. The flowers and shrubs were great, but the wood Ducks with their unique coloration and design were our favorites. We completed the day with a brief stop at Laurelhurst Park, located in an old and still classy neighborhood in Northeast Portland. Our accommodations at the Sweetbrier Inn on I-5 were excellent, very nice rooms, a gourmet restaurant, and was well organized by Lynda Morrison.
Our second day began with a stop at the Tyson Creek State Park visitor center. This is a very large forest park in an urban area for mufti-use — hikes, bikes, horses, wildlife, flowers, etc. Next a tour of Lewis & Clark College campus. The manor house originally was home of M. Lloyd Wright; it was constructed in the mid-20s. It is Tudor style, features a free-standing spiral staircase, slateroof and a magnificent view of Mt. Hood from the front patio. Prominent buildings we toured included the Templeton Commons, Watzek Library, the Pamplin Athletic Center, the Albany Quadrangle and of course the football field. Highlight was the Agnes Flanagan Chapel, known for its excellent acoustics. We enjoyed a brief organ number. Our guide was a very nice young-undergraduate, but unfortunately she was poorly prepared and had limited knowledge of the college and its history, but nevertheless we enjoyed the experience. Then to the nearby Franciscan Renewal Center operated by the Sisters of St. Francis. Our host, Sister Mary Jane, treated us to a delightful tour of the manor house, which was built by the Corbett family, a wellknown name in Portland. We also enjoyed the chapel, which was added in the 1950s, and were served a delicious lunch — and for $5 it was a bargain. This Center is used for retreats, seminars, weddings, business meetings and Elderhostels. We spent the afternoon at the Bishop’s Close, donated by the Kerr Estate to the Episcopal Church. It is presently the HQ of the diocese. The grounds are well maintained and contain many exotic trees including some Giant Sequoias. Access by bus is restricted, so we had to park some distance away, but the walk to the Close was through some beautiful homes and gardens. The rain returned as we were departing. Our final rest stop was at the Mary S. Young State Park near West Linn, and then to Eugene at 5:15. This trip was a departure from our usual format: Urban, not rural; Freeways, not backroads; Cultivated gardens, not wildflower and native forests. But it proved to be a refreshing change.
Driver John Bunker of Oregon Coachways performed professionally and skillfully. We encountered many narrow lanes and streets requiring maneuvers with one millimeter of clearance. John earned our applause and appreciation for a great service Our group of 39 riders had registered and paid by mid-March. There were no cancellations and no changes at all. It’s amazing what clean living and lots of oat-bran can do for a person!
Riders included seven non-members (Glendora Burbank, Marge Eaton, Flora Mae Hendershott, Carol Ferguson, Grace Miller, Nan Smith and Mildred Weatherby) and Obsidians Ewart & Margaret Baldwin, Mary Jane Battin, John & Marian Borchardt, Ingrid Carmichael, Bill Eaton, Herman Hendershott, Liz Fox; Bette Hack, Evelyn Hile, Jean Jensen, Rosella Jones, Dody Leppmann, John & Lenore McManigai, Cleora Mersdorf, Frances Newsom, Virginia Prouty, Liz Reanier, Edna Robertson, Dorothy Scherer, Kathleen Schlenker, Betty & Harvey Speck, Mary Stanford, Robin & Ethel Steussy, Millard Thomas, Louise Thurber, Christy White and leader Ray Jensen.