Monthly Archives: May 2012

Oregon City Municipal Elevator – “The Only Vertical Street in North America”

Elevator from the top

Need a quick stop to get out and stretch your legs while traveling in the Portland area? Here’s a fun little one at Oregon City. It’s called the Oregon City Municipal Elevator.

Oregon City was first built along the river and as it grew it of course grew up onto the bluffs above the river. American Indians had made trails up that way, so in 1867 the settlers built steps along the trails – 722 of them! In 1912 the residents finally voted to build an elevator, Now, obviously it was not like it looks today. It took several minutes to get to the top. Over the years the elevator has been rebuilt and upgraded.

We drove up to the top of the bluff and there was a small parking lot there as well as street parking.

The glass room at the top is open on one side so you can just walk right in.

View from Oregon Elevator

There is a beautiful view along with old pictures, the story of the elevator, directional and informational signs.

Map on floor.

On the floor is a sort of map that shows the various streets from that position.

When you push the button for the elevator and door opens, there’s a little surprise waiting. A woman was seated behind a glass wall. She is the operator and was very friendly and willing to answer questions.

The elevator is 131 feet high and now takes about 15 seconds to ride to the bottom, where you exit through a tunnel and end up out on the street. You can also exit directly to the right of the elevator when you get off and go out to a street that way.

The tunnel is lined with old pictures of the building of the tunnel.

Tunnel to elevator

View of elevator from below

You can of course, park at the bottom and ride to the top. And the best part of this little excursion – it’s free!

The elevator operates Monday through Saturday 6:45am-7pm and on Sundays from 11am-7pm.

So next time you need a quick little distraction on the road, check out the Oregon Municipal Elevator which, according to the Oregon City Public Works website is “one of only four municipal elevators in the world and “Elevator Street” remains the only “vertical street” in North America.”

Getting there: The elevator is located at 625 Center St., Oregon City, Oregon. From I-205 north or south, take exit 9 to Oregon City/Gladstone. Turn left onto McLoughlin Blvd/Ore-99E. Turn left onto 10th Street. 10th turns into Singer Hill Rd. which turns into 7th St. From there turn right onto Center Street and you are there!

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Categories: Historical, Oregon, Roadside Attraction | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Tilton River State Park (The “Don’t Blink, You’ll Miss It” State Park)

Hwy 508 runs east-west through Lewis County, Washington, winding through hills and valleys and even an intriguingly-named “Bear Canyon”.  Along the way, part of it parallels the Tilton River, named for a territorial surveyor, James Tilton.

At milepost 27, look to the north and don’t blink! You will literally miss the turn off for Tilton River State Park. It is simply a pull-off on the side of the road with room for two, maybe three cars. No road signs, no ranger booth, no port-a-potty.

Tilton River State Park Entrance

You have to get out of your car and face north and then at the start of the trail, off to your left, you will see a plaque on a rock noting that the land was donated in 1994 to the State of Washington by twin brothers, William and Otto Studhalter.

The Studhalter boys were somewhat influential in the Morton area. Born in 1901 in Tacoma, sons of a Swiss father and German mother, the whole family moved to Bremer, eight miles west of Morton, when the boys were young. The twins were loggers as well as owners of a sawmill where ties were cut for the army in WWII. They donated an old steam donkey (a steam-driven winch for logging) that had been used around 1918 for the annual Morton Logger’s Jubilee. This steam donkey can be seen today in Gust Backstrom Park in the town of Morton. There is also a Studhalter Road a few miles west of the park.

William died in 1993 and Otto followed in 1997. Otto donated the 110 acres to the State of Washington for use as a state park. Later, six more adjoining acres were bought to add to the donation.

By now, you would like to see the rest of the “park” and the river.  Just take a walk down the fairly well-defined trail for about ¼ mile. Careful, there are small obstacles such as tree roots. But when you reach the end of the trail and emerge from the canopy of firs, red cedar, maple, and Oregon Ash, you will see a scene right out of an old TV show – a simple rocky beach, a twisting, lazy river (known as “The Studhalter Fishing Hole”, and handmade fire pits. A beautiful place for picnics, relaxing , fishing or watching the kids play in the water. Very serene and peaceful.

But enjoy it while you can. According to the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission, they have decided not to further develop the park and are planning to either sell it or have another agency take over management of the land. A place that holds summertime memories for many local residents could be closed down or built up. But maybe, just maybe, the new owners will honor the last intentions of the Studhalter brothers, and leave the property as is, accessible and natural, for future generations of families to enjoy.

Getting there: From north or southbound on Interstate 5, take exit 71 and head east to milepost 27.

Categories: Historical, Outdoors, Parks, Washington | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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