05 October 2009

[pdx] The Stark Street Milestones

2219.Some time ago I fancied going out and finding milestones along SE Stark Street. The one I found looked like this:



This is on the northwest corner of SE 117th Avenue and Stark Street, at the corner of Ventura Park. As it turned out, there was a whole system of these small obelisks along Stark, going from the Willamette River at the east slip to the Stark Street Ferry (how you got across the river there before there was a Morrison Bridge) all the way out to what was to become Troutdale. Each small obelisk contained the letter P with a number representing the mile; P7 is 7 miles out. Stark Street – then, Base Line Road to signify its alignment along the Willamette Base Line – was one of the main routes into and out of Portland, connecting as it did to the old Columbia River Highway through Corbett and thence east to The Dalles, Hood River, and points east.

My plan was to find each one that the explanatory sign at 117th and Stark said were still extant and photograph them. As it turns out, some others are already doing this (hey, no foul; I can still go out and do it – and now I have a guide).

Atul666 at the blog Cyclotram had the same idea, and he'd been having just a little more luck than I did. He found milestone P5 in Montavilla, at the corner of SE 78th and Stark, tucked behind a dumpster (I've hotlinked this image):



Atul has also found P2, embedded within the wall of the Lone Fir Cemetery, near 23rd and SE Stark. You can read his words about it at http://cyclotram.blogspot.com/2009/10/milestone-p5.html.

But someone who's done the yeoman's job about this was someone identifying himself simply as Jeff at the blog http://starkstreetmarkers.blogspot.com/. In only two witty posts, he explores the idea of the Willamette Meridian and Base Line, and the idea of milestones along not just East but North, South, and West roads into and out of Portland.

Thanks to Jeff, I have pictures to go take and prattling to do. What Jeff did is, no more and no less, a public service.

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1 comment:

atul666 said...

FWIW, I just ran across someone's photos of a couple of SW Portland milestones here. The 5 mile one looks too recent to be part of the original set of milestones, and it's not quite in the right location. On the other hand the P7 at the Capitol Hill Library looks just like the ones on Stark St.