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More fond memories on 'Route 66'

Right after my “Route 66” story about the Benski family, the West Linn mill, and their brush with Hollywood, I got a fun email from Tim Pedersen, with memories triggered by that column. Tim, who was visiting his West Linn roots in early July, says he lived on West A Street until he got his draft notice in 1969. Since then, although he still calls himself a “lifelong resident of West Linn,” his visits have been sporadic, and he now lives in Alabama. I love the way he identifies with his hometown, even after what appears to be the better part of 30 years spent elsewhere.

I’m pretty impressed by the depth of detail that Tim still remembers about the “Route 66” episode that was filmed at the Crown Zellerbach West Linn mill and in Oregon City. Anyway, here’s what he remembers, in his words:

“I read your ‘Route 66’ story and I remember that occasion. The opening scene showed Milner and Maharis getting on the Oregon City Bridge at the West Linn side in their Corvette. One of the two guys said, ‘This is the only vertical street in America,’ referring to the (Oregon City) elevator. Then they showed a scene of Nina Foch at the corner of ‘Cochranes’ store, which now appears to be a beer equipment store that might be out of business. A convertible pulls up next to her and a bunch of kids pile out of it. One of the kids was a guy I grew up with named Terry Bottemiller, who lived on Buck Street next door to my Grandma.

I also remember the cast played a softball game down at Kelly Field which is near the Conestoga wagons’ End of the Oregon Trail exhibit. One of the production people was Lee Aker who starred as a young boy in the Western series “Rin Tin Tin.” The place where Robert Walker had a fight was a sawdust pile along the road on the way to the Willamette area. It was an exciting time for West Linn/Oregon City. They had cables all across the street in front of the elevator.”

His references to the elevator jiggle my memory of talking with Jerry Herrmann about the Bob Cummings visit. A detail that I didn’t include in the first Hollywood story (about Cummings and the West Linn Inn) was that Oregon’s 100th birthday party in 1959 Oregon City also trumpeted “America’s Only Vertical Street”—the modernized Oregon City public elevator, which had been finished in 1955. According to the End of the Oregon Trail website, the original elevator, opened in 1915, was water-powered until 1924, and was the only municipal elevator in the US. So it was a big attraction during the Centennial celebration in Oregon City (along with the WWII tanks rumbling down Main Street)—and still considered pretty exciting, even four years after its reopening. by: SUBMITTED HISTORIC PHOTO - 'Route 66' crews visiting Oregon City in 1962 attract plenty of attention from residents as crowds gather near production sites.

Sandy Carter is the director of the Willamette Falls Heritage Foundation and gave her permission to reprint this 2006 essay in honor of the 50th anniversary of the episode. See this year’s news story, “Route 66 recrosses Arch Bridge on film,” Oct. 10, for more memories.



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