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Mystery objects dug up in Sellwood

Concrete pyramids mystify
by: Eileen G. Fitzsimons, The mysterious “pyramids” uncovered in Sellwood.

In mid-June, three six-foot-high cement 'pyramids' were uncovered by workers during site preparation at S.E. Grand and Spokane Streets, just south of the Oaks Pioneer Church.

The area, formerly a high embankment covered with blackberries and weedy maple trees, is being excavated for a new four-story building with basement level parking, commercial space on the first floor, and six condominiums above.

Due to pre-dig testing, the presence of the pyramids was not unexpected, according to Andrew Ferguson, project superintendent for Gray Purcell General Contractors. However, he is still mulling over the exact purpose of the structures. His conversation with a former PGE employee lends credibility to a theory that they were intended to support an electrical tower. There are two sets of power lines in the vicinity.

Another suggestion--that they were used in the operation of the old Sellwood cable ferry at the foot of Spokane Street--was also considered. Inasmuch as there was no evidence that anything had been attached to the concrete, however, this was deemed unlikely.

A search of maps and old photographs of the area by this writer indicates that the site was used for lumber storage by the East Side Mill, which operated on the Willamette River side of the 'interurban' tracks (now, the Springwater Corridor trail) until the mid-1930's. However, such a use would not require such massive supports.

In any case, within a week the pyramids were slowly being reduced to rubble by jackhammers. If BEE readers have additional information to offer about these unusual and very large objects, please call or email the newspaper.