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Another Portland Blog

Thursday, March 23, 2006

 

Oregon City's # 1 tourist attraction

And now, for no apparent reason, here's a few photos of the Oregon City Municipal Elevator.




A poor man's Space Needle? Maybe but does the iconic tourist trap in Seattle have cheesy '50s murals? An observation deck that overlooks the thriving metropolis that is Oregon City? The creepiest painting of John McLoughin ever created? An adjacent path that leads to not only Dr. McLoughlin's grave but also a view of Willamette Falls? No, no, no and, that's right, no.

A quick history lesson, compliments of Oregon City's official website:

Oregon City is home to the only municipal elevator in the United States. It lifts people 100 feet to the mid-level of the city. There are only three other municipal elevators in the world.

Basalt terraces divide the city into three levels. In 1915 the town built a water-powered elevator to connect the two lower parts of town in a ride that took 3 minutes. Early residents recall that if the water pressure suddenly dropped it meant somebody was riding the elevator. The Oregon City Elevator was converted to electricity in the 1920s which reduced the ride to 30 seconds. The new elevator was built in 1955.




One of the murals in the observation deck depicts Oregon City as a bright beacon of the future with the elevator as its centerpiece. It looks like something straight out of Tomorrowland or the cover shot of an issue of Popular Science circa 1955. I neglected to take a photo, so here's one of the aforementioned creepy McLoughlin painting:




The Father of Oregon or Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer? You decide.

If the elevator were ever abandoned, it would make a great hideout for a Batman villain. Until that happens, it's worth a stop on a "Keep Portland Weird" day trip through the outer reaches of SE. Heading south along McLoughlin, you can hit Milwaukie's very own Statue of Liberty recreation, the Bomber, Keana's Candyland and a thrift shop filled with '80s toys adjacent to the elevator.

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