Waterways birthed modern day Oswego. During the early days of our Statehood when rivers were our major I.5 arteries, the intersection of the Willamette and Sucker creek (in George Rogers Park) was our main transit stop. Plied by riverboats purchased from the proceeds of first successful mill at South end district (below east of the Lake Corp) that was dammed & expanded natural Sucker Lake into the much larger Lake Oswego .
I began my weekly Sunday pilgrimage in a hard rain shower at the end of maple street. It was a first time for me to view an attractive hillside of water falls draining Lake Oswego. Rushing by in a torrent, I followed a small path that traverses through a deep green jungle along Sucker creek running under the old Three Nation Highway bridge( Canada to Mexico) out past the familiar sandbar beach we have fished from so many times. A historic spot once home to massive piers engaging Mark Twain like Riverboats carrying passengers and Iron Ore from the Iron Smelter furnace perked on the hill above. And just upstream a small Clackamas Native American Tribal settlement recently resided in the Glenmorrie area on the Willamette.
From the sandy beach, I climbed the beautiful cobblestone switchback stairways up to modern times and a viewpoint sharing a massive trillium flower sculpture with three green seats overlooking a majestic timeless panorama view of the Willamette. Salmon fisherman lolled in the middle of river with white flumes from water skiers zooming by . Behind me, for many years our family picnicked and played Frisbee on the magnificent green obelesque in the shadow of the massive Smelter. Now restored in its finest matching oval brick trim, wrought iron gates with an unbelievably humongous black lock. The raw power of this imposing out of time structure can best be imagined by viewing it from the inside out. Looking up thru its parched rust grey and black scoured throat which witnessed the metamorphass and consumption of the heart of Iron Mtn and whole neighborhoods of ancient timber into steel for the Steamships that carted it down the rivers to create the foundations of our cities. From north, south, east and west, identical oval entrances to this monolithic forge a perfect spot for one to imagine H.B.Wells time machine appearing from the future to discover Oswego’s beginnings.
Just up the hill past George Rodger Park, the current alleyways behind homes in Old Town at junction of Ladd and Furnace street where the first school was built, reflect what it might have looked like in 1929.
Just down the street the home of George Rogers reflecting his Mediterrean heritage and vintage Arts and Crafts . George was honored by his vision of rehabing the furnace property, beside the creek with his name on the park sanctifying this whole historic area . None of the oldest homes survive , but current old town is dotted with an eclectic mix of vintage and classic 90’s remakes, the brilliantly crafted Simms Modern Classic Townhouses on Wilbur, another Oddfellows lodge with their mysteriouse eye shaped logo turned into apartments and one of L. O’s original wonderfully designed coop apartment complex. see LUXURY ONE LEVEL RIVERFRONT CONDO
Grey turned to Oregon sunshine a bright pale grey as I strolled down the brick path behind the upper Lakeview Village professional office reaching State street where by 1920’s river transportation was replaced by an electric streetcar line that provided 60 morning noon and night rides a day going and coming from Portland to Oswego’s Old Town, New Town(first addition) and the South end.
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Bridging the brisk Sunday afternoon traffic, I entered the lovely LakeWood Bay neighborhoods and Northshore, which weaves through an exclusive mix of neighborhoods of classic homes bordering the previously swampy stump ridden duck pond to the west. Northshore rises up a hill and intersects a hidden peninsula jutting out into the lake and loops back winding along the basalt bluffs along the north side of the lake. As I reached the bridge at the Northshore Boating Easement a large great boat roared up the bay silhouetted against the hulk of the Sundeleaf designed theatre, docksides with dining tables across the north side of the lake up to the Lakeside Café. Avoiding the traffic at this bridge bottleneck I proceeded up an undulating northshore winding through outcroppings , more eclectic and exclusive of the 700 luxury homes that border the Lake. This rich stretch of fine homes and grand firs remind one of an idyllic setting feeling like a NW version of Carmel and Pebble beach without the wind and celebrities . Lakeview vistas open, when reaching one of the favorite boat swim easements Forest Hills, where parents were teaching their kids to fish behind a dozen moored boats , next an enclosed swimming area and playground.
I opted to turn up into Forest Hills at the Oswego Country Club entrance onto Iron Mtn and Pine Valley with its large vintage homes set back on expansive front lawns. Pine Valley, Westward Ho and Berwick provide a unique glimpse into the north side of the lake as it probably was, rolling, undulating folds rising from the bowl of the Lake, full of giant boulders thrown around, with ancient doug firs harboring little sacred dry spots and grassy knolls. Westward Ho sports a number of original historical stone and huge timbered homes hidden behind massive limbs as the Berwick reverses itself and climbs up to the 10th and A.
I stood on top the flag stand on the tip of the Historical Society grounds trying to imagine a rusty train of iron Ore carts streaming down A street coming down Iron Mtn rd back past the Country Club towards the Hunt Club down Fairview skirting the Golf course and on an ancient native American path that once was the Narrow Gauge Railroad leading up to the top of Iron Mtn. A wonderful path now hidden from below stretching across the mtn side. You can still see the train turnaround just behind the Boy Scouts view platform. Much of the vegetation on both sides of this path is not native and has an eerie and completely different feeling. As I crossed 10th st
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So with one foot in the past watching the rocky railed A st I crossed what a huge divider across A street into New Town with its small worker homes still seeing what must have ben a gutted charcoal pitted forest lining the sides as the iron ore moved down toward the riverfront foundry. 1st addition as we know it today has an admirable High Walkability rating with great cultural and community activities that has become a model for many Suburban Villages. A more perfect model if our City found the courage and vision to add ATTAINABLE sized housing to the our zoning bringing a more healthy diversity that opens the way for more young and aging populations to migrate to and about Oswego
The flat ‘New Town’ landscape flows into a grid of pleasant streets just as another stronger rainstorm forced me under a monster Douglas fir, which seemed to be owned by a small feisty grey squirrel. A perfect dry place to scout out my maps and chart my way through back alleys separating the 6000 sqft lots and my favorite mix of Capecods, One level ranches. Two historical homes dating back to the 1870’s bookcase my 2nd Oswego home the award winning library. After a short break I waded into deep pools past
Other walkers enjoying the sparkling steaming streets after a good rain. I managed to checkin at half a dozen new homes being built nearby many with solds and pending signs. Things are finallylooking up for our beleagered local builders. see luxury CUSTOM ONE LEVEL LIFESTYLE
I delivered a letter renewing my passport while passing by the local resident sea serpent sculpture. Leading down A street into the heart of Oswego’s downtown Suburban Village Oswego’s east side Village. Which offers an attractive and a vibrant lifestyle, with a responsive citizen driven town hall, a superb library, a hugely attended local farmers market, great summer concerts and Theatre and Arts and Crafts Fairs.
Oswego is at the beginning of a maturation process diversifying its inner village housing mix ,with our first live work residences , a one level condo development albeit a very high end one, some new mixed use and new attached townhouses . The piece de resistance will be finding the vision and wisdom to incorporate new zoning for attainable one level housing for a significant chunk of our population wishing to downsize and simplify their lives. And for those who will need more care and changes from independent into a community lifestyles. And young families that want to enjoy our great schools, our tight nit strong community and close proximity to all the parts of our metro area. Perhaps adding a street car and riverboat service like we once had, connecting us to the Portland Urban center will head our Suburban Village in the right direction towards meeting and finding solutions for our changing needs and a green and sustainable future. visit CUSTOM NEW EVERGREEN TOWNHOUSES
Back to the beginning
After a hot chocolat and feeding my Viennese weakness, a choc croissant pastry, I stepped out on to the littlest roundabout in town , watching the mists rise off of Lake wood bay and blow across the cobblestones to greet our Tuscan Host standing atop his stone perch with his dripping wet apron waiting for next Saturday market. I secretly explored the new massive stone rampart ramp leading down to the freight rails and past our $15,000 Cattail sculptures onto State st. Pushing the signal changer, I held on to Oswego circa 1850/1920 hoping to find some sidewalk evidence of past electric street car tracks, horse rings , troughs , an iron spike. Instead , I discovered the huge dock front dining area behind Sundeleaf designed Twin Theatres and a sign for Musical Chairs playing at the old school Lakewood Theatre.
Turning the corner at McVey , walking up the hill to the Lake Corp building, I searched for the old dam only to find an area looking more like the staging for the a military adventure. The only evidence of the past lies down below the bridge on the east side. Once one of the busiest footprints in 1857 Oswego, now a tranquil lovely gentle series of falls and pools leading back to the origins of Sucker creek.