Collins View History | Trolley


The Portland - Fulton Park - Cemeteries Trolley Line

Memorial Day marks the 130th anniversary of the arrival of an electric trolley in the Collins View neighborhood. It was the longest electrified trolley line in Oregon at the time, traveling six miles from downtown Portland to Greenwood Hills and River View cemeteries. Two Collins View residents have been reconstructing the trolley’s short history in the 1890s and share some of their findings here.

The Metropolitan Railway was conceived by entrepreneurs who had an interest in getting Portlanders out to the new cemeteries and nearby real estate holdings. Their trolley line started service to Fulton Park in 1890, and the next year it was extended through South Burlingame and Collins View to the cemeteries.

The “F Line” came out from Portland principally on 2nd and Corbett avenues. Once it passed SW Seymour, it went off-street to traverse the hillside where I-5 is now, arriving in Fulton Park — the name given to a housing development before the area became a park. The F Line was a huge engineering project, with trestles built, trenches dug, rails laid, poles erected, wires strung, and even a powerhouse constructed at Fulton Park. First-growth trees from the surrounding area were fed to the powerhouse’s boilers to provide electricity for the trolleys.

Powerhouse at Fulton Park, 1890~1897

From Fulton Park the trolley crossed the Stephens Creek ravine on a trestle to Carson Heights in South Burlingame. It went up the ridge where Crestline Drive is now to the top of the hill at Taylors Ferry Road, proceeded south along Beth Israel Cemetery's western boundary, then swung east into Greenwood Hills Cemetery, ending in upper River View Cemetery. The Cemeteries station is believed to have been in Section 122, where a large deodar cedar stands today with Mount Hood in view.

For ten years Portlanders could buy a ticket for 5¢ and take a scenic ride into the rugged countryside to visit graves, picnic in the beautiful cemeteries, or look at property. But the F Line was a hard route to maintain because of terrain and landslides, fuel was expensive, and the Financial Panic of 1893 may have curtailed property sales. The line’s owners turned their attention to other trolley development, and the F Line was abandoned in 1899.

To take the place of this trolley, an existing North-South line along Corbett was extended to the riverside settlement of Fulton and then to the lower part of River View Cemetery. The N-S Line left Corbett at Nebraska and continued on Virginia to Taylor's Ferry, where it stopped across from Fulton Park Boulevard. From there, passengers walked down a path to a footbridge across Stephens Creek and into the cemetery.

In the early 1900s, residents of the growing SW neighborhoods were served by the Oregon and Red Electric interurbans that traveled the current routes of Barbur Boulevard, I-5, and Macadam Road. But that’s another story!

The Trolley Project is developing a Self-Guided Walking Tour of the trolley lines described here, and welcomes any new information or comments via trolley@dialectrix.com (Then a link to this page.)


Supplement to the SW News article

Above is the 500 word text of the May 2021 SW News article. We provide here some additional neighborhood-related items.

Note that in the 1890's, Carson Heights (in South Burlingame) had no houses to get in the in the way of any trolley. In fact, Carson Heights seems to have been platted three different ways before ever being developed! We refer to Crestline Drive to identify the landform, an arm of land, not as a city street.

While a photo, an engraving, and detailed description exists of the Fulton Park Powerhouse, its location has yet to be pinned down. Research will continue till this is determined!

You may remember a Red House on higher ground where the Terwilliger Center 'annex' is now. Various people lived in the house over the years. In its final days, it was a sort of gift shop The Crane's Nest that was associated with Crane's deli (1980's-1990's). The man who built the red house lived there, and worked on the Trolley! That's about all we know.

An electric inter-urban along the Willamette had a 'Cemeteries' stop, near the Sellwood Bridge (date range). Prior to that, there was a riverboat landing for River View Cemetery.

The F Line started its service just a few months after Portland's 1st electric trolley line, the Albina Line.

You may be familiar with a mysterious 'Ramp' on Corbett Avenue in the John's Landing area. No trolley or street car used that ramp. Instead, the F Line traversed the hillside and entered Fulton Park via what we call the Brier Place Trench. See the Trolley Project pages (Link below) for more on the trench and the ramp.


More Images

This photo is identified as being the Cemeteries station, at the southern end of the Metropolitan Railway line. The 1894 Portland Paving Map maps show being in upper River View Cemetery. The Trolley Project has identified the likely location of the station.

Cemeteries station

Here is a cute little Trolley, one of several designs that ran along the F Line from Portland to the Cemeteries station. The passenger area was 20 feet long, with 6' vestibules on each end.

Typical trolley, Car 13.

This map (one of several from the Trolley Project) shows the path through Collins View and on into Greenwood Hill and upper River View Cemetery. Remember, this was before any houses were built.

Map #4 showing trolley line in Collins View

See the main Trolley Project site for details about the F Line, links below.


References

For more maps, photos, and history about this particular Trolley, go directly to the F Line page.

For the latest, complete information, visit the Trolley Project home page.

Contact the Trolley Project via trolley@dialectrix.com