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Oregon Historical Photo: Portland's Chapman Streetcar


Chapman Street cable line, Portland Heights in Northwest Portland. Only one line went up this steep grade. 1905.
 

Chapman Street cable line, Portland Heights in Northwest Portland. Only one line went up this steep grade. 1905.  

The Oregon Historical Society. Album 334.

Each week Oregon Experience shares a photo highlighting the state’s diverse, exciting history.  

A cable car is a streetcar pulled by a cable that’s moving underground between the rails. In 1890 there was a line installed in Portland up to the West Hills, which reportedly was the second steepest in the world. Unfortunately, the cable car crew did not receive enough training before opening day. The cables controlled both the speed and the brakes of the car. The grip man did not grab the cable correctly, which caused the cable car to accelerate down the incline to the city below. Most of the crew leaped to safety leaving the passengers alone in the car. When the car stopped the passengers flew out causing quite a few injuries.  

Watch the Oregon Experience documentary “Streetcar City” to learn how safety in cable cars improved and eventually made way for Portland’s streetcars.  

Streetcar City

 

 

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