The hallowed history of Goose Hollow
PSU author guides us through neighborhood's life, from a winding creek to cheering soccer fans
When a renovated Jeld-Wen Field opens April 14 as home of the Portland Timbers Major League Soccer team, it will be a far cry from what was happening in the Goose Hollow neighborhood a century ago.
The stadium off West Burnside Street between Southwest 18th and 20th avenues sits where, in the late 19th century, Tanner Creek wound through the neighborhood, carving a 50-foot-deep gulch, including smack under where fans will be standing and cheering. On its banks sat vegetable gardens cultivated by Chinese families.
A map and photos commemorating the long history of the Goose Hollow neighborhood will be posted on the stadium's exterior along 18th Avenue. It's history stretches back to 1845 with a tannery that drew business from across the West, sitting along the banks of the creek that flowed near what is now Canyon Road, under what is now the Lincoln High School football field, 18th Avenue and Jeld-Wen Field and to Couch Lake in what is now Old Town/Chinatown.
Portland State University scholar-in-residence Tracy Prince, 45, researched and wrote a book about the history of the gulch and neighborhood. 'Portland's Goose Hollow' (Arcadia, $21.99), a 128-page mostly photo book, will be released in mid-April, about the same time Jeld-Wen Field opens its doors to soccer fans.
To her amazement, through archived newspaper accounts, Prince discovered the answer to the one question she always had about Goose Hollow's lost creek: 'How the hell did it get filled?'
Brick drains were built along the creek for years by various businesses, and it was filled in with rock and dirt from developments on and north of Burnside. That's a lot of dirt and rock, folks. Tanner Creek Gulch was about 20 blocks long and two blocks wide at some points.
'The city was wondering, 'How are we going to expand west of the gulch?' ' Prince says of 1870s Portland. 'They had spent money on trestle bridges, taxing citizens. Businesses along the way tried to restrain the creek, which was beautiful for much of the year, but then winter rain would tear out the bank and they'd lose five feet of property.
'It was impossible for real estate and to rent out. So, they rented some of it out to Chinese vegetable gardens.'
Tanner Creek's story is a highlight of Prince's book, which includes many photos donated by local residents. She also writes about how the installation of the Interstate 405 freeway divided Goose Hollow; about Multnomah Athletic Club's influence; and, about the many famous residents of the neighborhood. Former Portland Mayor Bud Clark, who still owns the Goose Hollow Inn and helped bring back the neighborhood's distinctive name, wrote the introduction.
'I'm really impressed,' Clark says of Prince's book. 'She's got a wonderful eye for pictures.'
Prince received her PhD from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1997 in English literature, and moved to Goose Hollow in 2000. She has been active in the neighborhood, including serving on the association's board of directors. She's been working on the book for a year and a half, the idea born from writing a grant to the city's Office of Neighborhood Involvement.
'I'm a PhD, and I do research, so, of course I went a little crazy on it,' she says.
Goose Hollow encompasses area between West Burnside and the lower slopes of the West Hills north to south and I-405 to Washington Park east to west. With I-405 installation in the 1970s, Gander Ridge, accessible only by the infamous 'Ho Chi Minh' trail among freeways, off-ramps and onramps, separated from the neighborhood proper. Besides the lovers of flowing creeks and vegetables, losing part of its area was the saddest part of the neighborhood's past.
Obviously, not much word of mouth still exists about the west side of Portland from the 1800s. Prince combed Oregon Historical Society and The Oregonian archives for information, with the central focus being on how a huge creek could now be covered with a high school football field, buildings, streets and a huge athletic complex.
A 50-feet gulch was where what is now the intersection of 18th Avenue and Salmon Street, between Lincoln High School and Multnomah Athletic Club. Down deep, brick culverts still drain the West Hills.
'It was phenomenal that the terrain had changed so drastically,' she says. 'It's fascinating, because you walk over Goose Hollow today, it's so flat, you'd never know you're walking over 50 feet of fill.'
Chinese would grow vegetables alongside Tanner Creek, about 20 acres worth of gulch, and walk through the city selling the produce. Prince says evidence suggests that Chinese farmers used land in the area from 1870 to 1909.
TRIBUNE PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER ONSTOTT • Tracy Prince, a Portland State academic, wrote "Portland's Goose Hollow," due out in April and exploring the neighborhood's deep history.
War about geese
Land where the stadium now sits gradually evolved.
The MAC started using the land for athletic events after the turn into the 20th century, eventually built a grandstand, then a bigger grandstand for Oregon and Oregon State football and other events. Next to the field sat an exposition building, used for presidential visits, livestock and flower shows and such. Then the building was torn down, and by 1926 old Multnomah Stadium was constructed.
'The architect planned for a whole horseshoe (stadium), but they didn't have the rights, it was private land along 18th Avenue,' Prince says. In time, the stadium expanded to abut up 18th Avenue, and it has gone through various changes, from Civic Stadium to PGE Park to Jeld-Wen Field.
Clark grew up in mostly Northwest Portland, owned houses in Goose Hollow and changed the name of his tavern that he bought in 1967 on 19th and Jefferson to 'Goose Hollow Inn' out of fondness for the name of the old neighborhood. Within 10 years, it had become the Goose Hollow Foothills League.
'I got the name back,' he says, chuckling. 'I'll take credit for that.'
The original name was 'becoming urban legend territory,' Prince adds. As the story goes, police responded to immigrant ladies who were quarreling over geese in the neighborhood mowing down vegetable gardens, and they roughed up the police. Hence, the headline in an 1875 newspaper, 'A War about Geese.'
The neighborhood's history roughly stretches back to 1845, when a tannery owned by Daniel Lawnsdale (and later by Amos King) along the neighborhood's creek 'led to a steady stream of traffic coming through Portland,' Prince says.
Goose Hollow has spawned its share of famous citizens,.
C.E.S. Wood, a former attorney in Portland, whose words 'Good citizens are the riches of a city' are penned on the Skidmore Fountain, served as a colonel in the U.S. Army during the Indian wars. He was there when troops corralled Chief Joseph as the Nez Perce stood 11 miles from Canadian soil, and paraphrased the famous Chief Joseph quote, which ended with 'I shall fight no more forever.'
Dr. Marie Equi was an important leader in the suffrage movement of the early 20th century, and served time in San Quentin Prison after speaking out against World War I.
The most famous former resident was John Reed, who wrote books about the Mexican and Bolshevik revolutions. Actor Warren Beatty portrayed Reed in the movie 'Reds.'
Reed worked on behalf of labor issues, but he was born in a big mansion in the West Hills.
Architectural preservationist Eric Ladd, known for his cast-iron collection, worked to move the Kamm House from the Kamm Estate in 1950 (where Lincoln High sits), an old St. Mary's chapel and the Lincoln House to create a colony in a section of Goose Hollow. Only the Kamm house is still there, and it is offices and apartments.
'He had a bountiful vision,' Prince says, 'but less follow through.'
After finishing 'Portland's Goose Hollow,' Prince says she will work on a book about Nob Hill and Slabtown.
'It's been a fun adventure,' she says, of producing the Goose Hollow book. 'People had so much information, I hated to see it go to waste.'
Tracy Prince and Bud Clark will appear at a Powell's book signing/slide show, 7:30 p.m. April 15; a book launch party will be noon, April 17 at the Goose Hollow Inn.