2021 Trolley Project -- Trolleys to SW Portland Cemeteries in the 1890's

Collage of images you will come to know...

Did trolleys serve cemeteries in SW Portland long ago? If so, where did the tracks go?

The answer is yes. Two trolley lines served the SW cemeteries around the turn of the 20th century. The Fulton Park line of the Metropolitan Railway Company — the second electrified trolley in Portland after the Albina line — ran from 1890 to 1899. Initially the F Line went from downtown only as far as Fulton Park, but in 1891 it was extended to Greenwood Hills and River View cemeteries, making it Portland’s longest electric trolley line at six miles. When the F Line ceased operation, the City & Suburban Railway Company extended its N-S Line out Corbett Avenue past the city limits and partway up Taylors Ferry Road to a different entry point at River View. That line lasted until 1916 or 1918 (followed by a motorcoach till 1937).

Meanwhile, the Portland Willamette Valley Railroad had been running steam trains south along the river to Oswego since 1887. This line was electrified in 1914 and became one of the Red Electric interurbans, with a Cemeteries stop that provided access to the original entrance of River View Cemetery. Thus, mourners and picnickers had a third way to get to the beautiful rural cemeteries by early forms of public transportation.

The Trolley Era — Before & After

Before the electric trolley era, horse-drawn trolleys plied the streets of Portland. But if city folks wanted to get out into the countryside they still had to go by carriage, steam train, or riverboat. Then, with the advent of new technology, electric trolleys appeared on the streets and hillsides seemingly overnight. For a few decades in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the electric trolley reigned in Portland, followed by a network of electric interurban trains out to the suburbs. The automobile and motorbus ended the trolley era almost as abruptly as it had started, turning a dazzling modern advance into a quaint memory.

A Link will appear here soon, to a brief survey of the historical context leading to electric trolleys and tracing their decline.

The F Line: Fulton Park, Greenwood Hills, and Upper River View Cemetery

The F Line (short for the Portland—Fulton·Park—Cemeteries Line) went from Portland to Fulton Park to Greenwood Hills Cemetery and continued to the western edge of the upper part of River View Cemetery in the 1890's.

We know this early electric line left Portland on Corbett, ascending to the Fulton Park area via cuts in the [eastern] side of the West Hills. From Fulton Park, it crossed the Stephens Creek ravine via a trestle, proceeded through Carson Heights and Collins View, into the Greenwood Hills Cemetery, stopping just inside River View Cemetery where there was a station! It probably crossed four trestles total.

The F Line was discontinued after ~9 years, and a simpler existing N-S Line was extended to serve the lower northern end of River View Cemetery. That's why we cover both the F Line and the N-S Line.

F Line Trolley Page [LINK]

The N-S Line: From Portland to the southern terminus at River View Cemetery

The N-S Line (short for North and South Line) left downtown via Corbett. It turned on east on Nebraska, ran south along Virginia Street, then up Taylors Ferry Road a little past Fulton Park Blvd. On the Stephens Creek side of Taylors Ferry Road, there is a wide spot that was the trolley stop and end of the line. A foot bridge crossed Stephens Creek, allowing passengers to get into River View Cemetery.

N-S Line Trolley Page [LINK]

Special Features

This page has interesting bits and pieces tangential to the main stories, such as the mysterious Corbett Ramp.

Special Features [LINK]

Future Projects

Here we describe additional work that can be done to commemorate the Fulton Park Trolley Line, with serious interpretive signage, local culture, presentations, litter cleanup, and so on.

Future Projects [WIP]

Collection of (Re)Sources

Glossary of terms / Bibliography / Library of Documents and Maps / List of Websites...

Collection of Resources [LINK]

Self Guided Walking Tour (A Future Project)

Here we describe self-guided tour of the F and N-S Lines, pointing out sites and sights along the way, with longer and shorter options. Currently only lists points along the way, narration will be compiled ASAP. And there will be a Big Map prepared.

Self Guided Walking Tour, with Options [WIP]

Timeline of the two Trolleys and things that obliterated traces of them.

Electric Trolleys served SW Portland Cemeteries from about 1891-1916. Here we describe the start and end of the F Line and the N-S Line, and the many changes of companies during the great consolation.

Timeline of the two Trolleys [WIP]

Nearby Oregon Electrics (Willamette Shore, Bertha, Red Electric, SPRR)

A Primer on Electric train lines near the Cemetery Trolley lines

Nearby Oregon Electrics [A W.I.P. - nothing to see here]

About the Trolley Project

Here we tell the story of how the Trolley Project got started, and about some adventures we've had so far examining hidden parts of our now urban landscape. Read about the Trolley Project [HERE]

This project is the work of several people. See Helpers at the end of the page.

It's OK to share the Trolley Project Web Pages. Since this is a Work in Progress, and we are waiting for confirmation of some of our conclusions, we ask that you not republish or otherwise copy the text, just yet. We will put a Creative Commons license on it ASAP. Thank You — John Miller & Cynthia Stowell

Feedback Welcome at the above address!

Project Leaders and Helpers

  • John Miller, research, writing, website, maps.
  • Cynthia Stowell, research, writing, editing
  • Stephen Dudley, associated with River View Cemetery, Railway Volunteer
  • Erik Goetze, Art of Geography
  • Matthew Hampton, Cartographic Jedi
  • Tony Paolucci, Map Collector
  • Lee Rogers, River View Cemetery
  • Richard Thompson, via his books and emails.
  • John T Labbe, via his book. Labbe is buried in River View Cemetery!
  • Ken Mead, for his Newsletter article citing Labbe, that got this all started.
  • Doris Graham
  • and others, to be named...


Book Abbreviations

  • LABBE = John T Labbe's Fares Please! Those Portland Trolley Years
  • RTPS = Richard Thompson's Portland's Streetcars
  • RTPSL = Richard Thompson's Portland's Streetcar Lines
  • The Labbe book: Fares, Please! Those Portland Trolley Years by John T Labbe, 1980, can be found on-line for ~$15 and in Multnomah County Library (15 copies!).
  • The Leflar book: A History of South Portland by Stephen Leflar, Draft, 2010, via Multnomah County Library.
  • Thompson Book 1: Portland's Street Cars by Richard Thompson, Arcadia Publishing, 2006.
  • Thompson Book 2: Portland's Street Car Lines by Richard Thompson, Arcadia Publishing, 2010.