Oregon City is a community of great local vendors. From the earliest explorers to present day travelers, reaching Oregon City was the goal.
Oregon City, on the Willamette River, (North America's largest north-flowing river), is the first U.S. city incorporated west of the Mississippi, (North America's largest south-flowing river). Situated between the spectacular Willamette Falls and the Clackamas River, the 2000 census puts the population of this historic little city at 25,754. It is located at 45°20'51" North, 122°35'52" West (45.347393, -122.597879).
Long before the Oregon Trail was established, early visitors to the Oregon Territory endured a long and dangerous voyage by ship around the horn of South America, up the Columbia River, up the Willamette River, to the water falls at Oregon City.
Established in 1829, and incorporated in 1844, Oregon City became the capital of the Oregon Territory in 1849 and the chosen destination for early pioneers of the Oregon Trail.
Oregon City was the site of the only federal land office west of the Rockies, where settlers filed claims for the land they had been promised in the 1850 Donation Land Act.
The Willamette Falls became the early powerhouse for a variety of mills in the Oregon Territory.
The Willamette Locks, opened in 1873, lifted ships and barges 40 feet from the lower half of the river to the upper half, above the falls. They were the first multi-lift navigational locks in the United States. Still in use, the locks are now a National Historical Site as the oldest navigational locks in the country, and still water tight after 130 years.
Oregon City is a birthplace of "high-tech" commerce as home of the first long-distance, commercial hydroelectric service in the United States. Located at the Willamette Falls in Oregon City, it began transmitting electricity to Portland in 1889.
Oregon City is home to the only municipal elevator in the United States. It lifts people 100 feet to the mid-level of the city. There are only three other municipal elevators in the world.
Basalt terraces divide the city into three levels. In 1915 the town built a water-powered elevator to connect the two lower parts of town in a ride that took 3 minutes. Early residents recall that if the water pressure suddenly dropped it meant somebody was riding the elevator. The Oregon City Elevator was converted to electricity in the 1920s which reduced the ride to 30 seconds. The new elevator was built in 1955.
Old Oregon City Bridge
A world famous suspension bridge spanned the Willamette River between 1888 to 1922.
The new Oregon City Bridge began service in 1922. It is a 745 foot long, 28 foot wide, arch bridge that spans the Willamette River between Oregon City, and West Linn. At 49 feet above the river, it is the southernmost Willamette bridge in the Portland-metro area.