1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Oregon City

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OREGON CITY, a city and the county-seat of Clackamas county, Oregon, U.S.A., on the E. bank of the Willamette river, and S. of the mouth of the Clackamas river, about 15 m. S. by E. of Portland. Pop. (1890) 3062; (1900) 3494 (535 being foreign-born); (1910) 4287. It is served by the Southern Pacific railway, by an electric line to Portland, by other electric lines, and by small river steamboats. The principal business streets are Main Street, on level ground along the river, and Seventh Street, on a bluff which rises abruptly 100 ft. above the river and is reached by four stairways elevated above the tracks of the Southern Pacific. The residences are for the most part on this bluff, which commands views of the peaks of the Cascade Mountains. The river here makes a picturesque plunge of about 40 ft. over a basalt ridge extending across the valley, and then flows between nearly vertical walls of solid rock 20-50 ft. high; it is spanned by a suspension bridge nearly 100 ft. above the water. A lock canal enables vessels to pass the falls. The water-power works woollen-mills, flour-mills, paper-mills, and an electric power plant (of the Portland Railway, Light and Power Company), which lights the city of Portland and transmits power to that city for street railways and factories. The municipality owns the waterworks. Next to Astoria, Oregon City is the oldest settlement in the state. In 1829 Dr John McLoughlin (1784-1857), chief agent of the Hudson's Bay Company, established a claim to the water-power at the Falls of the Willamette and to land where Oregon City now stands, and began the erection of a mill and several houses. After 1840, in which year McLoughlin laid out a town here and named it Oregon City, a Methodist Mission disputed his claim. He aided many destitute American immigrants, left the service of the company, and removed to Oregon City. In 1850 Congress gave a great part of his claim at Oregon City for the endowment of a university, and in 1862 the legislature of Oregon reconveyed the land to McLoughlin's heirs on condition that they should give $1000 to the university fund; but the questionable title between 1840 and 1862 hindered the growth of the place, which was chartered as a city in 1850.